GlobalFloods in Brazil leave 60 dead and 101 missing

Floods in Brazil leave 60 dead and 101 missing

Sixty people died and 101 are missing due to heavy flooding in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, authorities reported Sunday.

At least 155 people were injured and damage from the rains forced more than 80,000 people to abandon their homes. About 15,000 took shelter in schools, gyms and other temporary shelters.

The floods have caused great devastation, impassable roads and collapsed bridges throughout the state. Companies reported power and communications outages. More than 800,000 people are without water, according to civil defense, which cited figures from the Corsan company.

On Saturday afternoon, the inhabitants of the Canoas town, with water up to their shoulders, formed a human chain to rescue people in boats, according to a video shared by the local news network UOL.

The Guaiba River rose to a record 5.33 meters (17.5 feet) on Sunday at 8 a.m., surpassing the channel it recorded in the 1941 floods, of 4.76 meters.

“I repeat and insist: The devastation to which we have been subjected is unprecedented,” said state Governor Eduardo Leite on Sunday morning. He had previously said that the state “will need something like the Marshall Plan to rebuild.”

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva arrived in Rio Grande do Sul on Sunday, accompanied by Defense Minister José Múcio, Finance Minister Fernando Haddad and Environment Minister Marina Silva, among others.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis said he was praying for the state’s residents. “May the Lord welcome the dead and give comfort to their families, and to those who had to leave their homes,” declared the pontiff.

The downpour began on Monday and is expected to last until Sunday night. In some areas, such as valleys, mountain slopes and cities, more than 300 millimeters (11.8 inches) of rain fell in less than a week, Brazil’s National Institute of Meteorology, known as INMET, said Thursday.

They are the fourth torrential rains in a year: similar rains occurred in July, September and November 2023 that in total killed 75 people.

The climate in South America is affected by the El Niño climate phenomenon, a periodic natural event that warms the waters of the Equatorial Pacific region. In Brazil, El Niño has historically caused droughts in the north and heavy rains in the south.

This year, the impact of El Niño has been particularly dramatic, with a historic drought in the Amazon. Scientists say extreme weather conditions are occurring more frequently due to human-caused climate change.

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