In Brazil, floods leave 37 dead and 74 missing

In Brazil, floods leave 37 dead and 74 missing

The torrential rains which have affected the south of Brazil for several days and the rising waters have left at least 37 dead and 74 missing. The regional capital, Porto Alegre, was hit in turn. The task of rescuers is formidable, with entire towns practically cut off from the world, made inaccessible by the floods which devastated the state of Rio Grande do Sul, where it is expected to rain at least until Sunday.

Housing areas drowned as far as the eye can see, roads destroyed or bridges swept away by the current, not to mention the ruptures 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.

In Porto Alegre, the regional capital with some 1.5 million inhabitants, the disaster will be ” unprecedented “, warned the 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, a river in southern Brazil. 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 meters.

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Risk of dam failure

According to the governor, the state of Rio Grande do Sul is experiencing “worst climate disaster in its history”. At least four dams “are in an emergency situation, with a risk of rupture”, alerted local authorities. Amid the disaster, four pregnant women were rescued in the town of Agudo, taken by helicopter to a hospital.

The toll, already heavy with 37 dead, 74 missing and 74 injured, remains very provisional. More than 250 localities have been hit for several days by devastating storms and thunderstorms. The latest count from the authorities lists some 351,000 claims. In total, 23,600 people had to leave their homes.

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Rains until Sunday

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited the region on Thursday, promising that it would not fail to ” means “ human or material 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.

The weather forecasts are worrying, rains of “extreme severity” expected to persist until Sunday, according to civil defense, which also warned of the risk of overflowing from another river, the Uruguay River. 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.

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The World with AFP

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Mattie B. Jiménez

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