The number of deaths from the heavy rains that have hit the coast of the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo rose from 40 to 44 deaths, while the missing remain at around 40, official sources reported Tuesday.
The hardest hit area is the municipality of Sao Sebastiao, where 43 deaths have been reported for what is already "one of the greatest tragedies in history" of the region, which endured a record level of rainfall in the country’s history, with more than 680 millimeters in 24 hours.
The other fatality was registered in the town of Ubatuba.
Some 2,500 people have been forced to leave their homes and temporarily stay with relatives, schools and the headquarters of civil society organizations.
More than 600 troops, including Army soldiers, continue uninterruptedly with the search and rescue work with the intention of locating the disappeared and saving people who have been left isolated in communities in the area.
Among the people rescued is the Brazilian Minister of Management, Esther Dweck, who was with her family in an urbanization located on Camburi beach, in Sao Sebastiao, according to local media.
The authorities have also begun the distribution of 7.5 tons of humanitarian aid, since in various points there is still no water supply or electricity and there are serious problems with communications.
On the other hand, the governor of Sao Paulo, Tarcísio De Freitas, announced this Tuesday that the Navy will set up a field hospital to care for the victims, with 300 nursing beds and about twenty health professionals.
The torrential rains caused numerous floods and landslides in at least six cities on the São Paulo tourist coast: São Sebastião, Caraguatatuba, Guarujá, Bertioga, Ilhabela and Ubatuba.
De Freitas, former Minister of Infrastructure of the Government of Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022), decreed the "state of public calamity" in those municipalities, with a view to accelerating the release of resources to serve the population.
Many highways were also severely damaged, including the one connecting the cities of Santos and Rio de Janeiro, making it difficult for rescue brigades to reach disaster-affected areas.
The catastrophe occurred in the middle of the Carnival festivities, when dozens of tourists travel from the big cities to this region of paradisiacal beaches in the middle of the Atlantic Forest.
The Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, flew over the hardest-hit areas on Monday to learn first-hand of the situation, accompanied by a large delegation of ministers.
The progressive leader pledged to "rebuild" homes destroyed or damaged in the region and asked the country’s authorities to stop building in areas considered to be at high risk for floods and landslides.
Storms in the southeast region of Brazil during this time of year are usually common, but in recent years they have been more intense and destructive.