18 dead, fears of higher toll after rain deluges Brazil area

RIO DE JANEIRO — At least 18 people died in mudslides and floods when torrential rains swept a mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro state, and there were fears the toll could rise as searchers check damaged areas Wednesday.

The state fire department stated late Tuesday night that more 180 troops were working in the devastated Petropolis area, where hundreds died from severe rainfall.

The department said the area got 25.8 centimeters (just over 10 inches) of rain within three hours Tuesday — almost as much as during the previous 30 days combined.

Footage posted to social media shows cars and homes being pulled away by the landslides, and water swirling throughout Petropolis and nearby districts.

Petropolis’ city hall said in a statement that the heavy rains left “a high number of incidents and victims” and that rescue and recovery efforts were continuing.

Brazilian President Jairbolsonaro is currently on a visit to Russia and tweeted that he had instructed his ministers for immediate assistance to those in need.

“May God comfort family members of victims,” he wrote.

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