Tally of Brazilians missing after landslides rises to 43

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Rescue workers, residents, and volunteers search for victims after a mudslide caused by heavy rains in the coastal city of Guaruja, Brazil, Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Storms have pummeled Brazil’s southeastern coast, causing deadly landslides and leaving people homeless. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

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SAO PAULO (AP) — The number of Brazilians missing in the wake of deadly landslides on the coast of Sao Paulo state has risen to 43, authorities said Thursday.

The higher tally, nearly double the number of missing reported on the previous day, was largely centered in the city of Guaruja, according to the state’s civil defense office. At least 27 people have died in the landslides.

Torrential rains fell early Tuesday, inundating the area with more rain in a 24-hour period than had been expected for all of March. Poorly constructed homes washed down the slopes.

“I don’t know many people that lived up there,” Maria da Conceição, an onlooker, said in an interview beneath one disaster area. “The few I knew were all desperate people who accepted living there, in the riskier places.”

On Wednesday, search teams with rescue dogs picked through the wreckage, initially seeking survivors. As the hours slipped by, they turned their focus to finding bodies.

The storm left 480 people without homes, of which 228 were in Guaruja. Most lived in poor neighborhoods known as favelas that climb the verdant hillsides.

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Biller reported from Rio de Janeiro.

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