Federal government announces relief measures for rain-stricken Petrópolis

relief rain-stricken Petrópolis
Civil Defense marshals digging for survivors in Petrópolis. Tuesday’s rains are among the worst of the past century. Photo: Tânia Rêgo/ABr

The Jair Bolsonaro administration announced the deployment of federal troops to assist Civil Defense marshals in Petrópolis — a mountain city 68 kilometers away from Rio de Janeiro which has been rocked by mudslides and flooding since Tuesday evening. Almost 110 people have been confirmed dead, and authorities predict the toll will continue to rise over the next few days.

The government also sent 500 kilograms of medicines and medical staff, allowed Petrópolis residents to withdraw money from their FGTS mandatory severance funds, and opened the possibility of exempting local companies from state-level taxes on goods and services.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán today, is returning to Brazil and will fly over the city tomorrow. 

Members of the opposition in Congress want the House to create an oversight committee to monitor how the federal government is spending the money earmarked for the Petrópolis relief effort.

According to meteorological service INMET, most of the state of Rio de Janeiro is at severe risk of new storms, which could deepen the crisis. Almost 20 percent of the city of Petrópolis is located in areas with high risk of landslides and authorities had already been informed about the vulnerability of multiple neighborhoods, but little action was taken.