Landslides and massive floods kill sixty people in Brazil

Massive flooding and landslides caused by days of heavy rain in Brazil’s southernmost state have killed 56 people.

Officials say another 67 people are missing in Rio Grande do Sul.

Nearly 25,000 residents have been forced to leave their homes since the storms began last Saturday.

At least half a million people were without power and clean water, and more rain was expected.

The extreme weather was caused by a rare combination of warmer than average temperatures, high humidity and strong winds.

More than half of the state’s 497 cities have been affected by the storms, with roads and bridges destroyed in several areas.

The storms also caused landslides and the collapse of a hydroelectric dam near the town of Bento Gonçalves, killing 30 people.

A second dam in the area was also at risk of collapsing due to rising water levels, authorities said.

In Porto Alegre, the regional capital, the Guaiba River burst its banks, flooding streets and inundating some neighborhoods.

Porto Alegre International Airport has suspended all flights indefinitely.

One resident called the damage “heartbreaking.”

“I live in this area, so I feel sorry for everyone who lives here. It’s very sad and regrettable that all this is happening,” Maria Luiza told the BBC.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has visited the region and promised help from the central government.

Meteorologists predict more rain will fall in the region as a cold front passes through.

Last year, more than thirty people died in a cyclone in Rio Grande do Sul.

Brazil’s National Institute of Meteorology attributed the increased intensity and frequency of rainfall to the El Niño climate phenomenon.

A map showing the location of Rio Grande do SulA map showing the location of Rio Grande do Sul

(BBC)

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