Floods in southern Brazil: at least 56 dead

Floods in southern Brazil: at least 56 dead
Floods in southern Brazil: at least 56 dead

With the continued rise in water levels and a toll of at least 37 dead and 74 missing, the situation was becoming more and more critical on Friday in southern Brazil. The regional capital Porto Alegre was hit in turn.

The task of rescuers is formidable, with entire towns being practically cut off from the world, made inaccessible by the floods which for several days have devastated the state of Rio Grande do Sul, where it is expected to rain at least until Sunday.

Residential areas drowned as far as the eye can see, roads destroyed or bridges swept away by the current, not to mention the ruptures of dams which risk further aggravating the situation: the human and material damage is considerable and especially concentrated in the central region of this Border state of Argentina and Uruguay.

“Here is my home and I feel a lot of pain, it hurts my heart,” Maria Luiza, 51, who lives in Sao Sebastiao do Cai, in one of the areas most affected by the virus, told AFP. flooding.

In Porto Alegre, the regional capital with some 1.5 million inhabitants, the disaster will be “unprecedented”, warned Governor Eduardo Leite.

On Friday, streets in the historic center of the city were in turn invaded by water due to the exceptional flood of the Guaiba, an emblematic river of southern Brazil, AFP noted. The authorities estimate that the level of Guaiba could reach 5 meters in the coming hours. The historical record, dating from 1941, is 4.71 m.

“Worst disaster”

According to the governor, the state of Rio Grande do Sul is experiencing the “worst climate disaster in its history”. At least four dams “are in an emergency situation, with a risk of rupture”, local authorities warned.

In Capela de Santana, north of Porto Alegre, Raul Metzel says his neighbors had to abandon their livestock. “They don’t know if the water will continue to rise or what will happen to the animals, they may drown soon.”

In the midst of the disaster, there are some comforting scenes, such as the rescue of four pregnant women in the town of Agudo, taken by helicopter to a hospital.

The toll, already heavy, remains very provisional, with 37 dead, 74 missing and 74 injured. More than 250 localities have been hit for several days by devastating storms and thunderstorms. The latest count by the authorities lists some 351,000 victims. In total, 23,600 people had to leave their homes.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited the region on Thursday, promising that it would not lack human or material “resources” in the face of this tragedy. The federal government has pledged to send helicopters and boats, as well as more than 600 military personnel, to reinforce relief operations and food distribution.

“Climate crisis”

The weather forecast is worrying, with “extremely severe” rain expected to persist until Sunday, according to Civil Defense, which also warned of the risk of another river, the Uruguay River, overflowing.

Hundreds of thousands of people were left without electricity. Water supply is also compromised in many localities, as is access to the internet or mobile phone signal.

To the north of Rio Grande do Sul, the neighboring state of Santa Catarina is now also hit by the rains. Rio Grande do Sul has already been hit several times by deadly bad weather, notably in September, when 31 people died after the passage of a devastating cyclone. According to experts, these extreme weather phenomena have increased in frequency and intensity with global warming.

Brazil experienced a historic drought last year in the north of the country and the number of forest fires reached a record from January to April, with more than 17,000 outbreaks recorded across the country, more than half in the Amazon.

“Rain in the south, fire in the north (…). These two tragedies bear the fingerprints of the climate crisis. The government must take urgent measures to prevent the situation from getting even worse” , alerted the NGO collective Climate Observatory in a press release.

This article was automatically published. Sources: ats / blg / afp



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