With dozens of people still reported missing, hundreds of rescue workers, along with neighbors and relatives, are still searching for possible survivors.

The state government said at least 24 people had been rescued alive.
The state government said at least 24 people had been rescued alive. (Reuters)

At least 105 people have died from floods and mudslides that swept away homes and cars in the Brazilian city of Petropolis.

Rescue workers raced against the clock searching for any remaining survivors among mud and wreckage after devastating flash floods and landslides hit the city.

The state government said at least 24 people had been rescued alive, as it reported the latest death toll on Wednesday evening.

With 35 people still reported missing, fears that the death toll could climb further sent firefighters and volunteers scrambling through the remains of houses washed away in torrents of mud, many of them in impoverished hillside slums.

Using dogs, excavators and helicopters, more than 180 firefighters and other rescue workers were responding to the emergency, aided by 400 soldiers sent in as reinforcements.

Around 300 people were being housed in shelters, mostly in schools, officials said. 

Charities called for donations of mattresses, food, water, clothing and face masks for victims.

"It looks like a scene from a war. It's incredible," Governor Claudio Castro said, adding that it was the worst rain since 1932.

City hall declared a "state of disaster" in the city of 300,000 people, which sits 68 kilometres north of Rio.

The city council declared three days of mourning for victims.

READ MORE: Brazil fears more deaths as toll from mudslides climbs

Using dogs, excavators and helicopters, more than 180 firefighters and other rescue workers were responding to the emergency, aided by 400 soldiers sent in as reinforcements.
Using dogs, excavators and helicopters, more than 180 firefighters and other rescue workers were responding to the emergency, aided by 400 soldiers sent in as reinforcements. (AFP)

The impact of climate change

Tuesday's storms dumped 258 millimetres of rain on the city in three hours, nearly equal to all the rainfall from the previous month, the mayor's office said.

It is the latest in a series of deadly storms to hit Brazil in the past three months, which experts say are being made worse by climate change.

Experts say rainy season downpours are being augmented by La Nina — the cyclical cooling of the Pacific Ocean — and by the impact of climate change.

Because a warmer atmosphere holds more water, global warming increases the risk and intensity of flooding from extreme rainfall.

Petropolis and the surrounding region were previously hit by severe storms in January 2011, when more than 900 people died in flooding and landslides.

READ MORE: Flash floods kill dozens near Rio de Janeiro

Source: TRTWorld and agencies