In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, more than 10 inches of rain falls in 12 hours on this day in 1966, causing a flash flood. Four hundred people were killed and 50,000 needed to be evacuated due to the sudden influx of water
The rains, which were the heaviest to hit the area in more than 80 years, took a severe toll on the city’s Copacabana and Ipanema districts. Much of the population of these communities lived in shacks and shantytowns that were constructed on steep hillsides. At the foot of the hills lied more expensive high-rise apartment buildings.
The first to suffer from the flash flood were the hillside shack dwellers. The water caused several mudslides that collapsed many homes. Scores of victims were buried and crushed by mud and debris. Within a day, however, nearly the entire city of Rio was feeling the effects of the flood. The Marcano River rose seven feet above flood level and nearly half the city lost power and water. The high-rise buildings were flooded and some lost their access completely, as mud and debris blocked the entrances.
The official death toll was an estimated 400 people, making this one of the worst flood disasters in Brazil’s history.