Death toll rises to 44 from landslides on Brazilian coast

Sao Paulo, Feb 22 : The death toll rose to 44 from landslides and floods over the weekend on the coast of Brazil's Sao Paulo state, while nearly 40 people remain missing, the regional government said. According to a statement issued by the Sao Paulo government, 43 people died in landslides caused by heavy rains in the city of Sao Sebastiao and another person in the seaside resort of Ubatuba. More than 2,400 people had to be evacuated from the area after their homes were destroyed, according to official reports released on Tuesday. The landslide occurred during Carnival festivities, which were mostly suspended, leaving many tourists stranded as numerous roads and highways leading to seaside resorts were damaged, Xinhua news agency reported. The cities most affected and under a state of calamity are Sao Sebastiao, Ubatuba, Guaruja, Bertioga, Ilhabela and Caraguatatuba. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva cut short his vacation on Monday and travelled to the affected area to announce support for Sao Sebastiao, pledging federal funds for housing construction. Meanwhile, the Sao Paulo Social Fund and Civil Defence agency have begun distributing 7.5 ton of donated humanitarian aid to victims. /IANS


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