Torrential rains in Brazil kill eight, 13 missing
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Two days of heavy rain have battered a broad swathe of the southeastern state's Atlantic coast, the latest in a series of deadly storms in Brazil that experts say are being aggravated by climate change.
The new incidents come six weeks after flash floods and landslides killed 233 people in the scenic city of Petropolis, the Brazilian empire's 19th-century summer capital, also in Rio state.
This time, the areas hit hardest included the tourist town of Paraty, a seaside colonial city known for its picturesque cobblestone streets and colorful houses.
Officials there said a landslide in the Ponta Negra neighborhood had killed a mother and five of her children, ages two, five, eight, 10 and 15.
A sixth child was rescued alive and taken to the hospital, they said.
In all, seven houses were swept away in landslides in the city, and another four people injured. Seventy-one families were forced from their homes, officials said.
Two more victims were killed in the cities of Mesquita and Angra dos Reis, where another 13 people remain missing, said Congressman Marcelo Freixo, who represents the state of 17.5 million people.
In Angra, the victim was a four-year-old girl buried in a landslide, while in Mesquita, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Rio de Janeiro city, a 38-year-old man was electrocuted trying to help another person escape the flooding, media reports said.
The storms turned streets into rivers in several cities Friday night, sweeping up cars and triggering landslides -- a frequent tragedy in the rainy season, especially in poor hillside communities.
Officials in Angra said the city had received 655 millimeters (26 inches) of rain in 48 hours, "levels never before registered in the municipality."
"The entire emergency response team and professionals from the city government are in the streets helping the population," the city said.
The federal government said it had sent military aircraft to help the rescue effort, and dispatched national disaster response secretary Alexandre Lucas to the state.
Experts say rainy season downpours in Brazil are being augmented by La Nina -- the cyclical cooling of the Pacific Ocean -- and by the impact of climate change.
Because a hotter atmosphere holds more water, global warming increases the risk and intensity of flooding from extreme rainfall.
There were also heavy rains in the northeastern state of Bahia, where 24 people died in December.