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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Dozens dead in massive flooding in Brazil

Regional authorities have described the situation in the south of the country as “absolutely unprecedented”

The southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande del Sul has been hit with what its authorities have described as the worst flooding in its history. The regional capital of Porto Alegre has been engulfed by heavy torrents, with the city mayor warning that the situation could get even worse.

The total death toll linked to the disaster has climbed to between 56 and 58, according to various media reports, citing the Brazilian civil defense authority. The raging floodwaters have also left more than 70 people injured, with another 67 still missing, the agency said.

The collapse of a hydroelectric dam near the city of Bento Goncalves, coupled with landslides in the area, killed 30 people, the media said. According to some reports, a second dam could possibly collapse in the area as well.

Videos published on social media showed the city completely submerged under water, with its streets turning into rivers that can only be traversed by boat. One clip, supposedly dated May 2, showed powerful torrential streams raging through the streets and roads, dragging debris, trees and even vehicles with them. At least one motorcyclist could be seen dragged away by the floods.

The catastrophe has displaced more than 24,000 people and inflicted property damage on some 350,000, according to authorities. The flood levels have surpassed those of the devastating 1941 deluge, according to the Brazilian Geological Service. Some cities recorded the highest water levels in the history of such observations, which began some 150 years ago, the agency said.

Rio Grande del Sul Governor Eduardo Leite called the situation “absolutely unprecedented” and the worst in his state’s history. “Forget everything you’ve seen, it’s going to be much worse in the metropolitan region,” he said on Friday, when the streets of Porto Alegre had already been submerged by the fast rise of the local Guaiba River. The city is home to some 1.5 million residents.

The city mayor, Sebastiao Malo, urged local residents to evacuate, adding that the waters had started to rise in another local river, the Gravatai. According to media reports, roads in the area were destroyed and bridges were swept away by the powerful currents.


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Some smaller towns in Rio Grande del Sul were reportedly left completely inaccessible and suffered from a lack of electricity and drinking water. At least 300 municipalities have been affected by the disaster since Monday, according to the media.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited the region on Thursday, vowing a robust response to the disaster.

May 05, 2024 at 02:12AM
RT

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