Death toll from rain in southern Brazil rises to 57 | Brazil

The death toll from rain in Brazil’s southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul has risen to 57, local authorities said on Saturday afternoon, with dozens still unaccounted for.

The state’s Civil Protection Authority said 67 people were still missing and more than 32,000 people had been displaced as storms hit nearly two-thirds of the state’s 497 towns.

Floods destroyed roads and bridges and caused landslides and the partial collapse of a dam at a small hydroelectric power station. A second dam in the town of Bento Gonçalves is also at risk of collapse, authorities said.

In Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, Lake Guaíba burst its banks, flooding streets.

Porto Alegre International Airport has suspended all flights indefinitely.

Rain is expected in the northern and northeastern regions of the state over the next 36 hours, but precipitation amounts have decreased and should be well below the peak seen earlier this week, according to the state meteorological authority.

“River levels should remain high in the coming days,” state Governor Eduardo Leite said in a live video on his social media on Saturday, adding that it was difficult to determine for how long.

Rio Grande do Sul, which borders Uruguay and Argentina, is located at a geographic meeting point between tropical and polar atmospheres, creating a weather pattern that includes periods of intense rainfall and other periods of drought.

Local scientists believe this pattern has intensified as a result of the climate crisis.

Heavy rains had already hit Rio Grande do Sul last September, when an extratropical cyclone caused flooding that killed more than 50 people.

This came after more than two years of persistent drought due to the La Niña phenomenon, with only sparse showers.