Floods in southern Brazil | At least 56 dead, roads and communications cut in the metropolis Porto Alegre

(São Sebastião do Caí) The toll rose on Saturday in Brazil where floods have devastated the state of Rio Grande do Sul for several days, leaving at least 56 dead and 67 missing in this southern region of the country where the capital regional Porto Alegre is strongly affected.



This new report was communicated by the Brazilian civil defense on Saturday.

Roads have been cut by the floods and communications are disrupted in this state where it is expected to rain at least until Sunday and the authorities have given orders to evacuate certain areas of the metropolis of Porto Alegre.

The task of rescuers is formidable, with entire towns practically cut off from the world, made inaccessible by floods.

Housing areas drowned as far as the eye can see, roads destroyed or bridges swept away by the current, not to mention the failure of dams which risk further aggravating the situation: the human and material damage is considerable and especially concentrated in the central region of this State bordering 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 most affected areas, told AFP by floods.

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.

PHOTO ANSELMO CUNHA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A volunteer and a municipal employee use a fishing boat to rescue animals in Eldorado do Sul.

“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.

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 rain of “extreme severity” 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 the 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,” warned the NGO collective Observatoire du Climat in a press release.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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