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Around sixty dead in floods in Brazil

Photo: Carlos Fabal Agence France-Presse Authorities have ordered the evacuation of certain neighborhoods in the metropolis of Porto Alegre, the state capital with nearly 1.4 million inhabitants, located at the confluence of several rivers.

Carlos Fabal – Agence France-Presse in Porto Alegre

Posted at 6:12 p.m. Updated at 7:37 p.m.

  • Americas

The floods which have been devastating southern Brazil for several days have driven nearly 70,000 people from their homes and left around sixty dead and dozens missing, a “dramatic” and “unprecedented” situation which particularly affects the great metropolis Porto Alegre.

After earlier mentioning 57 deaths, civil defense reported on Saturday evening a death toll of 55, with an additional seven deaths being the subject of an “investigation”. There are also 74 missing and 107 injured. Furthermore, at least two other people were killed in the explosion of a gas station in Porte Alegre, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, noted an AFP journalist, present during the explosion .

The disaster is ever more evident: some 69,200 people have been forced to leave their homes and more than a million homes are without water in the state.

Around sixty dead in floods in Brazil

Photo: Carlos Fabal Agence France-Presse

The situation is “dramatic” and “absolutely unprecedented,” Eduardo Leite, governor of the state where nearly 320 localities are affected, said on Saturday. Fearing for the “supply” and “production line,” he called for a “Marshall Plan” to rebuild the region.

A large part of the municipalities find themselves isolated, roads having been cut by floods or landslides, and communications disrupted.

The weather services have indicated that the bad weather had started to subside but it was expected to rain for another 24 to 36 hours.

Authorities ordered the evacuation of certain neighborhoods in the metropolis of Porto Alegre to some 1.4 million inhabitants, located at the confluence of several rivers.

With the rising waters of the Guaiba, an emblematic river of the Brazilian South, floods have hit the city hard, where the airport has been closed since Friday. The river level reached 5.09 meters on Saturday, surpassing the historic record of 4.76 dating from 1941.

«In a few minutes »

“In a matter of minutes, in less than an hour, everything was flooded. I lost everything, the television, the wardrobe, the bed, the fridge, everything,” José Augusto Moraes de Lima, a 61-year-old trader who lives in the Navegantes neighborhood, in the northern part, told AFP. of the city.

It is in this neighborhood that a flooded gas station, located on an avenue, exploded, killing two people, and generating a thick cloud smoke visible from afar. Firefighters were evacuating victims of the disaster, suffering from burns, AFP noted.

In many places, long queues formed in the hope to board a bus, while motorists tried to make their way through flooded roads.

Referring to another river that runs through the city, Porto Alegre Mayor Sebastiao Melo wrote on X that the dam holding back the Gravatai River “has started overflowing again.” “The communities must leave the area,” he said.

He also asked the population to ration water, after four of the six stations sewage treatment plants in the city had to be closed.

Sunday “will be a key day for relief operations”, warned the Minister of Communication Paulo Pimenta, who came on site with other ministers.

Porto Alegre is the capital of one of the most prosperous states in the country, with the fifth largest GDP of the largest economy in Latin America and an essentially agricultural production, with significant crops of soya, rice, wheat and corn.

A baby rescued by helicopter

Housing areas drowned as far as the eye can see, roads destroyed or bridges swept away by the current: the human and material damage is considerable and especially concentrated in the central region of this state bordering Argentina and Uruguay.< /p>

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva released a video showing members of the armed forces rescuing a baby by helicopter. We see an agent hitting the roof of a house with a brick in order to get the baby out, wrapped in a blanket.

In a reception center, in Gravatai , north of Porto Alegre, Claudio Almiro says that when he left his house, he was “up to his hips in water”. “I lost everything,” he confides.

North of Rio Grande do Sul, the neighboring state of Santa Catarina is 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 throughout the country, more than half in the Amazon.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116