Mudslides in the northern part of the State of Rio de Janeiro have killed hundreds of people, especially in the mountain towns of Teresópolis, Petrópolis and Nova Friburgo. The disaster was set off by a rainfall of ten inches in 24 hours. Property damage is also extensive. The hard-hit towns were popular tourist destinations and popular destinations for cariocas [residents of Rio de Janeiro] seeking relief from summer heat.
Friends who live in Nova Friburgo report that they survived. As of January 15 they have Internet service, but no lights. Another friend, a retired ambassador who vacations in the affected area, says that the horrible loss of life was predictable because of the government’s failure to enforce restrictions on building in areas subject to mudslides and because of shoddy construction practices.
Two passages in the novel Farewell Rio may offer some insight: In Chapter 15, Kate and John spend a weekend at a luxurious hotel in Petrópolis. In Chapter 19, a 1968 landslide destroys a favela near the Central Railway Station in Rio de Janeiro. In this mountainous terrain, where tens of thousands of shacks are built precariously on steeply sloping ground, deadly landslides have been occurring for decades.
Here are some links to news coverage: