Dozens dead, at least fifty missing in Brazil landslides

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Over forty people have been killed and at least fifty others are said to be missing after landslides hit coastal towns in the state of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

The death toll that struck the coastal towns are said to have risen to at least 44 over the weekend.

Locals have joined forces with rescue workers to search for survivors in the mud.

More than 750 people were displaced as torrents of earth and rock erupted from hillsides following a record amount of rain in the coastal area east of So Paulo.

Meteorologists reported that more than 680mm (26 inches) of rain fell in Bertioga in less than 24 hours.

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However, all but one of the deaths occurred in the town of So Sebastio, located 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Bertioga.

Many children are among the victims. A two-tonne boulder smashed into a girl’s home, killing her.

Another woman was killed when a tree fell on her. The mud that careened down the hillside buried the majority of the others.

Meteorologist Marcelo said  that a cold front with a unique combination of characteristics caused a “extreme and historic” weather event, including not only heavy rains but also high swells that made it difficult for any of the rain to drain away.

Many of the make-shift homes built on steep hillsides could not withstand the force of the water that came rushing down.

More than nine million people in Brazil are estimated to be living in areas prone to mudslides or flooding.

With more heavy rain forecast for the coming days, some left their homes to take shelter in sturdier buildings. The area had been particularly busy during the carnival period with families seeking to relax by the seaside.

Visitors have been encouraged to return home after some of the roads that had become impassable due to the landslides have been cleared, easing the strain on aid and services in the affected towns.

In Brazil, landslides and flooding are common. More than 230 people were killed in Petrópolis, north of Rio de Janeiro, last year when torrential rains caused mudslides.

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