Death toll rises to 56 due to flooding in southern Brazil

POSTAGE ALEGREThe death toll from floods and mudslides caused by violent storms in southern Brazil has risen to 56, while another 67 people are missing, the country’s civil protection agency said on Saturday.

The state of Rio Grande do Sul has been particularly hard hit by rising water levels, which have led to overloaded dams and threaten the metropolis of Porto Alegre. Authorities in the region have been working tirelessly to evacuate residents from flooded neighborhoods as the situation remains dire.

Rescuers are facing enormous challenges as entire cities have become inaccessible due to flooding. Residential areas are flooded over vast distances, with roads destroyed and bridges swept away by the force of the powerful currents.

Local officials say at least 265 municipalities in Rio Grande do Sul have suffered storm damage since Monday, resulting in dozens of injuries and the displacement of more than 24,000 people. A third of those affected have been moved to shelters as the region grapples with the aftermath of the natural disaster.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited the affected region on Thursday and pledged full support for the response efforts. He attributed the disaster to climate change and promised that “there will be no shortage of human or material resources” in tackling the crisis.

Climatologist Francisco Eliseu Aquino underlined the role of climate change and the El Nino weather phenomenon in the devastating storms, describing the situation as a “disastrous cocktail.” Aquino highlighted the intensification of extreme weather events, citing the collision of tropical and polar air masses, exacerbated by climate change.

Brazil has witnessed a series of extreme weather events in recent times, including a cyclone in September that killed at least 31 people. Aquino emphasized that the region’s unique geography makes it susceptible to the effects of climate variability, which has been exacerbated by global warming.