RIO DE JANEIRO – The death of a taxi driver who was buried under a mudslide Tuesday raised to five the number of fatalities from the rains that have drenched the southeastern Brazilian state of Minas Gerais for a week, authorities said.
The latest victim was sleeping in his vehicle at a taxi stand in Ouro Preto before dawn Tuesday when he was buried under tons of mud and stones that came pouring down a hillside.
Besides the five dead, authorities are still searching for an old woman who was swept away by a swollen river four days ago in Minas Gerais, the second most populous state in the country.
According to the latest bulletin from emergency services, 9,365 people have had to evacuate homes threatened by mudslides and floods, while another 404 had their houses destroyed in the 52 municipalities where a state of emergency has been declared.
Among the hardest hit cities are Itabirito and Brumadinho, both in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte, the state capital, whose streets are flooded from the overflowing of several rivers.
Authorities in the neighboring state of Rio de Janeiro, also lashed by torrential rains, evacuated Monday the inhabitants of certain dwellings built in high risk areas and provided shelter in public schools and gymnasiums for close to 300 people left homeless.
In the mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro, including the cities of Nova Friburgo, Teresopolis and Petropolis, some 1,000 people died in January last year as a consequence of mudslides and flooding caused by heavy storms in what remains the worst natural tragedy in Brazil’s history. EFE