Death toll from rains in southern Brazil rises to 57

Estimated read time 2 min read

The death toll from rains in Brazil’s southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul has risen to 57, local authorities said on Saturday afternoon, while dozens still have not been accounted for.

The state’s civil defence authority said 67 people were still missing and more than 69,000 had been displaced as storms affected nearly two-thirds of the 497 cities in the state.

Floods destroyed roads and bridges and triggered landslides and the partial collapse of a dam at a small hydroelectric power plant. A second dam in the city of Bento Gonçalves is also at risk of collapsing, authorities said.

In Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul’s capital, the Guaíba lake broke its banks, flooding streets. Porto Alegre’s international airport has suspended all flights for an indefinite period.

People are evacuated from a flooded area in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul State, Brazil. The death toll from floods and mudslides triggered by torrential storms in southern Brazil has climbed to 58 people.View image in fullscreen

Rains are expected in the northern and north-eastern regions of the state over the next 36 hours, but the volume of precipitation has been declining, and should be well below the peak seen earlier in the week, according to the state meteorology authority.

“Rivers water levels should stay high for some days,” the state governor, Eduardo Leite, said on Saturday in a live video on his social media, adding that it was difficult to determine for how long.

Rio Grande do Sul, which borders Uruguay and Argentina, is at a geographical meeting point between tropical and polar atmospheres that has created a weather pattern with periods of intense rain and drought. Local scientists believe the pattern has been intensifying due to the climate crisis.

Heavy rains hit Rio Grande do Sul last September, as an extratropical cyclone caused floods that killed more than 50 people. That came after more than two years of a persistent drought due to the La Niña phenomenon, during which the region saw only scarce showers.


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