Rescuers are racing to find people trapped as a typhoon has killed at least 20 people in Brazil

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Rescuers on boats and planes rushed Sunday to help remote people in the mountains of southeastern Brazil after a typhoon and torrential rains killed at least 20 people.

With more rain forecast for Sunday, flooding hit the Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo regions, where authorities reported chaos due to flooding.

The death toll rose from four to 12 on Sunday as rescuers advanced.

The hardest-hit town is Mimoso do Sul, a town of about 25,000 people south of Espirito Santo, where at least 10 people have died in the floods, although officials fear the risk could rise.

The Governor of the State, Renato Casagrande, explained that these conditions are “disturbing,” saying that so far it has not been possible to assess the damage in some remote areas, fearing that the risk could rise.

At least eight people have been killed in the neighboring state of Rio de Janeiro, officials said, most of them in landslides.

Four of the deaths in Rio state occurred when the storm caused a building to collapse in the city of Petropolis, 70 kilometers (45 miles) from the capital.

Search teams rescued a girl after she was buried there for more than 16 hours. Her father, who was found dead next to her on Saturday, “respectfully protected the girl with his body,” a neighbor told AFP.

The flooding comes as Brazil, the largest country in South America, is suffering from recent severe weather, which experts say could be caused by climate change.

Such natural disasters “are getting worse with climate change,” President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, adding that thousands were left homeless by the storm.

He sympathized with the victims, and said that his government is working with the state and local authorities to “prevent, protect and repair the damage caused.”

About 90 people have been rescued since Friday, according to a message from the emergency committee of the Rio government and civil protection officials.

Television footage showed rivers of water, mud and debris rushing through the picturesque Petropolis, which in February 2022 killed at least 241 people in another devastating storm.

Dozens of soldiers and firefighters, aided by dogs, worked Saturday in heavy rain. Part of the cemetery has been washed away, the AFP team in the town also observed, while another landslide is at risk.

In Mimoso do Sul, a fire truck was seen being dragged down the road by the waves, while images released on Saturday by the state fire department showed entire areas under water, with only the roofs of buildings visible.

The National Institute of Meteorology predicted a severe storm, especially in Rio, which will bring 20 centimeters (7.9 inches) of rain each day from Friday to Sunday. On average, the region receives 14 cm (5.5 inches) of rain throughout the month of March.

Rio officials declared an administrative holiday on Friday as the typhoon approaches and urged people to stay at home.

The storm followed a heat record, when humidity helped the temperature rise above 62 degrees Celsius (143 degrees Fahrenheit).

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