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Petrópolis counts 176 dead and 165 missing after 6 days of rain (Update 1)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Rio de Janeiro state Civil Defense announced that after a 6-day storm, Petrópolis totals 176 deaths; 165 people are still missing, according to the Civil Police. The weather forecast indicated a 90% chance of 30 mm of rain for Sunday.

Since Tuesday, 259 mm of rain has been recorded, an average of 43 mm per hour.

The hillside region of Rio de Janeiro once again suffers from flooding and landslides. (photo internet reproduction)

The Petrópolis City Hall urged the city’s residents to avoid leaving their homes on Sunday because of a “mega-operation” to clean the city’s streets.

The firemen reported that they rescued 24 people alive. The Civil Defense has registered 837 occurrences, 642 of which were landslides. Last Saturday, February 19, 90 victims of the rains were laid to rest in the Petrópolis Cemetery.

The state government has approved an emergency budget of R$150 (US$29.1) million for the reconstruction of 5 priority areas.


After the 2011 floods and landslides, which left nearly 900 people dead, the mountain region’s municipalities used only 50% of the funds allocated by the federal government. In the entire region, only half of the R$2.27 billion released by the former Ministry of Cities, now the Ministry of Regional Development, has been used.

The state planned to build 7,235 homes in the affected municipalities, but after 11 years, only 4,219 houses were delivered.

At the time, the Legislative Assembly established a Parliamentary Inquiry Committee (CPI) to investigate allegations of embezzlement of federal and state funds by the mayors of the region. In the final report, deputies recommended the review of the contracts of 3 construction companies and found that the main factor leading to the 2011 tragedy was the lack of a housing policy.

According to the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, some R$4 billion of the State Works Secretariat’s budget, including the amount approved to restore the Rio de Janeiro mountain region, was embezzled. The Operation Lava Jato prosecutors claim that ex-governor Sergio Cabral received a 5% bribe from contractors and for each bid, and there was also a 1% payment, solely for the Secretariat.

In the last 10 years, the Works Secretariat has had 3 officials arrested and convicted: Hudson Braga, José Iran and Luiz Fernando Pezão.

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