In Brazil, torrential rains leave 29 dead and 60 missing

Torrential rains that have hit southern Brazil in recent days have killed at least 29 people

In Brazil, torrential rains leave 29 dead and 60 missing

Torrential rains that have hit southern Brazil in recent days have killed at least 29 people. A toll which is expected to rise further, with 60 people still missing, according to the authorities of the region visited by President Lula on Thursday, May 2.

“I want to deeply regret all the lives lost. There are 29 deaths recorded currently, and with the deepest pain, I know that there will be more,” said the governor of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Eduardo Leite, in a live intervention on Thursday .

The figures are “absolutely preliminary”, the governor had warned earlier, in the face of the “worst climate disaster” ever seen, according to him, in this border state with Uruguay and Argentina. On Wednesday evening, the governor declared a “state of public calamity” in this region affected for a week by devastating storms and thunderstorms which caused floods and landslides.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who met the governor on Thursday in Santa Maria, one of the most affected cities, promised that Rio Grande do Sul "will not lack the means" human or material to deal with this tragedy. More than 600 soldiers must be sent as reinforcements for relief operations and the distribution of food to disaster victims.

Heavy rainfall expected until Friday

The Head of State assured that the federal government was mobilized “100%” to “mitigate the suffering due to this extreme natural event”. He went there with several ministers, including that of the environment, Marina Silva.

Authorities counted 67,869 victims in 147 towns in Rio Grande do Sul. Nearly 10,000 people had to leave their homes, of which some 4,600 were taken into accommodation. “I’ve never seen anything like this. Everything is underwater and it’s going to get even worse. It’s impossible to sleep, we don’t know to what extent the water level will continue to rise,” Raul Metzel, 52, a resident of the town of Capela de Santana, told Agence France-Presse.

Many roads are inaccessible and the water and electricity supply is compromised for hundreds of thousands of people, according to local authorities. Many towns are completely isolated, with no internet or cell phone signal.

The governor ordered the evacuation of residents of six municipalities located in a mountainous region, due to the flooding of the Cai River. There was also concern after the announcement of the partial rupture of a dam in Cotipora, a mountain town.

The meteorological institute Inmet has forecast strong winds and rainfall of up to 200 mm for Thursday in Rio Grande do Sul and the neighboring state of Santa Catarina. Heavy rainfall is expected until Friday.

Classes have been suspended until further notice in schools in Rio Grande do Sul, as well as football matches scheduled for this weekend.

In September 2023, at least 31 people died in this state after a devastating cyclone. According to experts, global warming is increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, which occur one after the other in Brazil. The situation is further aggravated by the El Niño climatic phenomenon.