PETROPOLIS, Brazil – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Friday that the destruction in the mudslide disaster that killed at least 123 people in Petropolis looked like the mountain city had been hit by a war.
“I saw intense destruction. It looked almost like there had been a war,” Bolsonaro said after flying over the disaster in the town located in the mountains north of Rio de Janeiro that was hit by torrential rainfall.
Dozens of hillside houses were destroyed by the landslides on Tuesday in the heaviest rainfall registered since 1932. Cars and buses were swept away in the floods that left a trail of destruction down city streets.
Downpours continued increasing the climate of fear and anguish in the city as residents searched for missing relatives and friends.
There is conflicting information regarding the number of victims of the tragedy.
Police said on Thursday that more than 100 people were still missing, though other authorities put the number at 35 people.
Bolsonaro pledged federal assistance to help the city recover after a flyover on his return from a visit to Russia and Hungary.
Petropolis and the surrounding region were previously hit by severe storms in 2011 when more than 900 people died in flooding and landslides.
The tourist destination is known as Brazil’s “Imperial City” as it was the summer getaway of Brazilian royalty in 19th century Rio de Janeiro.