19 dead amid heavy rains in Brazil, cities cancel Carnival


SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian authorities said on Sunday that at least 19 people died in several cities in north Sao Paulo state amid floods and landslides, and this number could still rise.

The cities of Sao Sebastiao and Bertioga, two of the hardest hit, canceled their Carnival festivities as rescue teams struggle to find missing, injured and feared dead in the rubble.

“Our rescue teams are not managing to get to several locations; it is a chaotic situation,” said Felipe Augusto, the mayor of Sao Sebastiao. He posted in his social media channels several videos of widespread destruction in his city, including one of baby being rescued by locals lined up on a flooded street.

Sao Paulo state government said in a statement that precipitation in the region has surpassed 600 millimeters in one day, one of the highest amounts ever in Brazil in such a short period.

Bertioga alone had 687 millimeters during that period, the state government said.

Gov. Tarcisio de Freitas said in a statement he requested support from the army, which will send two airplanes and rescue teams to the region. He issued a public calamity decree for the cities of Ubatuba, Sao Sebastiao, Ilhabela, Caraguatatuba and Bertioga.

TV footage showed houses flooded with only the roof visible. Residents are using small boats to carry items and people to higher positions. A road that connects Rio de Janeiro to the port city of Santos was blocked by landslides and floodwaters.

The northern coast of Sao Paulo state is a frequent Carnival destination for wealthy tourists who prefer to stay away from massive street parties in big cities.