|The landslides and flash flooding that struck in 2011 was Brazil’s most deadly natural disaster [EPA]|
The rain is falling heavily in Brazil and people are concerned that the tragedy that struck last year might be repeated.
Just 11 days into 2011, flash floods and landslides killed 902 people across the state of Rio de Janeiro. It was the most deadly natural disaster in Brazil’s history. Worst hit was a mountainous region 40 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. 300mm (12 inches) fell in just a few hours, triggering flash flooding and landslides which buried people under a wall of mud
This year the rains have turned heavy once more. The states of Mina Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo are all being hit by the severe weather. An average of 125mm (4.9 inches) of rain is expected in the whole month of January, but some locations are reporting this amount of rain in just 24 hours.
Flooding is already affecting many areas and as the rains continue to fall, the risk of mudslides is also rising.
Water affects the way that the soil clings together and adds extra weight, making the soil heavier and therefore less stable. As the saturation of the soil increases, the speed of the landslide is also increases, making the situation even more dangerous.
Across much of the area that has been inundated by rain, the houses are perched perilously on the edge of hillsides. Any movement of the ground could have disastrous results.
Already mudslides have struck in the city of Belo Horizonte, and across the country six people have lost their lives to the severe weather. People in other precarious regions are now being evacuated to prevent a repeat of last year’s catastrophe.