57 dead after heavy rain in Brazil, dozens still missing

57 dead after heavy rain in Brazil, dozens still missing

Floods destroyed roads and bridges in several regions of the state (File)

Sao Paulo:

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

Rio Grande do Sul’s Civil Protection Authority said 67 people were still missing and more than 32,000 had been displaced as storms hit nearly two-thirds of the 497 towns in the state, which borders Uruguay and Argentina.

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

In Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, Lake Guaiba 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.

Still, “the water levels of the rivers should remain high for several more days,” Governor Eduardo Leite said in a live video on his social media on Saturday, adding that it is difficult to determine for how long.

Rio Grande do Sul 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 the pattern has increased due to climate change.

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 Nina phenomenon, with only sparse showers.

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