Southern Brazil under water, 29 dead and 60 missing

Steph Deschamps / May 4, 2024

 

The death toll from the torrential rains that have hit southern Brazil in recent days, with their trail of floods and landslides, reached at least 29 on Thursday, and 60 people are still missing.
 
Across the state of Rio Grande do Sul, to which President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who had come to the scene, promised the government's help, the scenes were Dantean: gigantic mudslides, houses and cars drowned as far as the eye could see, evacuations of inhabitants and animals carried out under extremely risky conditions by the emergency services.
 
For Governor Eduardo Leite, this is the "worst climate disaster" ever seen in this state bordering Uruguay and Argentina.
 
"I want to deeply mourn all the lives lost. There are 29 dead at present, and with the deepest sorrow I know there will be more," he said at the end of the day, also announcing 60 missing. The previous toll was 13 dead and 21 missing. Thirty-six people were injured.
 
On Wednesday evening, a "state of public calamity" was declared in Rio Grande do Sul, which has been hit by devastating storms and thunderstorms for several days.
 
The flooding is concentrated in the central region of Rio Grande do Sul, where 154 localities have been hit. According to the latest Civil Defense figures, more than 10,000 people have had to leave their homes, of whom some 4,600 have been taken into shelters. Many roads are inaccessible, and water and electricity supplies are compromised for hundreds of thousands of people, according to local authorities. Some towns are completely isolated, with no internet or cell phone signal. The governor has ordered the evacuation of residents in six mountainous communes, due to the flooding of the Cai River.
 
Concern was also rife following news of the partial failure of a dam in Cotipora, another mountain town. The Inmet meteorological institute forecast heavy rainfall until Friday. Classes in Rio Grande do Sul schools have been suspended until further notice, as have soccer matches scheduled for the weekend. In September, at least 31 people perished in this state after the passage of a devastating cyclone.
 
According to experts, global warming is increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events in Brazil. The situation is further exacerbated by the El Niño weather phenomenon. Scientists estimate that current global temperatures are around 1.2 degrees Celsius higher than they were in the mid-19th century, leading to an increase in floods, droughts and heat waves.
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