Residents in Brazil's second-largest city have awoken to scenes of chaos after thrashing wind and rain whipped through neighbourhoods, felling trees, flooding streets and sweeping away buses in a storm that killed at least six people.
Some of Rio de Janeiro's most iconic neighborhoods, including tourist hot spots like Ipanema and Copacabana, were battered by winds of up to 110km/h on Wednesday night, with precarious hillside favelas hit by mudslides that closed roads.
At least six people died, with two of them killed when a bus was buried by a mudslide while driving along an exposed coastal road, authorities said.
"It was a lot of water that ended up causing this tragedy," Rio's mayor, Marcelo Crivella, told local news media. "It was unexpected."
The storm came just days after Rio experienced its hottest January in 97 years, with temperatures rising as high as 42C.
In Arpoador, on Ipanema's world-famous beach, a small sailboat was washed up on shore.
Many were stranded in restaurants and bars when the storm hit, watching as winds tore through the streets, flattening signs and blasting parasols.
TV images showed one man being swept away by a raging torrent of water that gushed through the Rocinha favela, while other reports depicted cars succumbing to the flow.
Crivella noted that Rio was not yet out of danger, with more rains due later on Thursday.
"They will be less intense rains, with less powerful winds," he said.
"We ask that people stay in a safe location."
Australian Associated Press