This aerial shot shows damage due to landslides in Petropolis.
CNN  — 

At least 44 people have been killed after heavy rains caused flooding and landslides in Petropolis, in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro.

It is unknown how many people are missing, according to the latest report by the Rio de Janeiro Fire and Civil Defense Department.

The city had more rain in one afternoon than the historical average for all February, according to the Civil Defense of Rio, and the municipality has announced a state of public calamity in Petropolis.

People search for victims of the landslides.

Videos released on social media show images of cars being dragged by strong currents, and records show there were 207 calls to the fire department related to heavy rains.

Claudio Castro, governor of Rio de Janeiro state, traveled to Petropolis and announced that firefighters and public employees from other cities would help to deal with the effects of heavy rains.

Rescuers use a sniffer dog to search for survivors.

A merchant cleaning out their damaged shop told Reuters he was surprised by the flooding.

“It arrived by surprise, it started flooding gradually … it was very difficult,” merchant Henrique Pereira said.

“We lost everything,” another merchant, Regiane Dias, told the news agency.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who is currently on a trip to Russia, tweeted that he had spoken to ministers and asked for “immediate assistance” to be sent to the victims.

At the beginning of February at least 24 people died after heavy rain battered São Paulo, triggering floods and landslides across the Brazilian state.

More than 1,546 families were displaced, according to a statement released by the State Civil Defense, which also said that at least eight children were among the dead.

And at the end of December it was announced that the death toll from floods and heavy rain, which had blighted the Brazilian state of Bahia since November, had risen to 20.

Flooding also caused two dams to burst and the displacement of an estimated 62,800 people, state officials say.