Bahia, Brazil Floods and Avalanche, May 1935

400 DIE IN FLOODS AT BAHIA; GUNFIRE STOPS AVALANCHE; LARGE BUILDINGS DESTROYED

60-INCH RAIN IN FIVE DAYS

500 Homes and a Hotel
Above Bay Wrecked as
Landslides Follow

ARTILLERY SAVES SCHOOL

Cannon Open Breach in Mud
Mass Menacing Brazilian
Medical Institution

1,000 ARE MADE HOMELESS

Upper Town Is Also Flooded
—Food Prices Soar and a
Shortage Is Feared

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 4 — Torrential
rains, accompanied by howl
ing gales, which have lashed the
city of Bahia and its vicinity for the
last five days, have taken at least
400 lives and caused injuries to seve
eral hundred persons, according to
advices received here tonight.
Floods and landslides caused by
the incessant rains have rendered
more than 1,000 persons homeless
and have demolished some 500
houses. Several large buildings
were destroyed, among them the
old Hotel Paris, which overlooked
the bay.
An avalanche of mud and water
had collected in t he brush and bamboos
behind the Bahia School of
Medicine and threatened today to
overwhelm the school buildings, but
that calamity was averted when artillerymen
opened breaches in the
brush barrier with shellfire and diverted
the flow.

Rains Show Signs of Abating

The heaviest rains, assuming
cloudburst proportions, have fallen
within the last forty-eight hours,
but tonight they showed signs of
abating. The total fall up to noon
today was estimated at 60 inches.
[At the United States Weather
Bureau in New York last night it
was said that such falls were not
unusual in tropical countries.
Bagnio, in the Philippines, it was
said, had a fall of 45.99 inches in
July, 1911, and in Cherrapunji,
British India, the average annual
rainfall measures 428 inches.]

Upper Town Also Flooded

Both the upper and lower towns
are flooded. The four public lifts
connecting them have been disabled;
so have the inclined railways.
A building collapsed across
one of the latter. The motor roads
ascending to the upper town are almost
impassable, the mud and water
having collected on them is
spots to a depth of several feet.
All buildings perched on the brow
of the hill, among them some of the
city's most fashionable residences,
have been vacated.
Deep crevices have appeared near
the Medical School and the Treasury
building and the latter structure
has been ordered vacated. Deep
crevices have also appeared in t he
municipal cemetery.
So serious has the situation become
that a "state of public calamity"
has been proclaimed in the
city, and volunteer as well as regular
military forces in the vicinity
are being mobilized for rescue work.
All of the city's police and firemen
are being utilized and 2,000
Integralistas, Brazil's fascists, are
assisting them.

Food Prices Soar

The stoppage of railroad transportation
resulting from the floods has
sent food prices in Bahia soaring.
It is feared that unless the rain
stops soon and railroad service is
resumed a serious food shortage
may result.
Most of the telephone and telegraph
lines are down. Power lines,
too, have been felled in many sec*
tions and tonight virtually the entire
city was in darkness. Landslides
have completely isolated
some boroughs.
Police stations, army barracks
and even Bahia's almshouse have
been converted into first-aid stations.
Most of the homes destroyed
were in the poorer and most densely
populated quarters of the city.
The destruction of communication
lines has made it impossible
to gauge definitely the extent of
the damage or the exact number
of dead and injured.

May 5, 1935 edition of The New York Times