May 30, 2024

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Southern Brazil was exposed to its worst floods in more than 80 years.  At least 39 people died

Southern Brazil was exposed to its worst floods in more than 80 years. At least 39 people died

Sao Paulo (AFP) – Heavy rains in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil killed 39 people, while 68 others are still missing, the government civil defense agency announced Friday. Record floods Devastated cities and forced thousands to leave their homes.

It was the fourth such environmental disaster in one year, following floods in July, September and November 2023 that claimed 75 lives in total.

Statewide flooding has exceeded those seen during a historic 1941 deluge, according to the Brazilian Geological Service. The agency said that water levels in some cities reached their highest levels since records began about 150 years ago.

On Thursday, a dam at a hydroelectric power station between the cities of Pinto Goncalves and Cutipora partially collapsed, and entire towns in the Tacuari River Valley, such as Lajedo and Estrella, were submerged. In the town of Velez, 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the state capital, Porto Alegre, a overflowing river washed away a bridge that connected it to the neighboring city of Linha Nova.

Operators reported power, communications, and water outages across the state. More than 24,000 people were forced to leave their homes, according to the Civil Defense Agency.

Without internet, phone service or electricity, residents struggled to provide updates or information to their relatives living in other states. Helicopters constantly flew over the cities as stranded families with their children waited for rescue on rooftops.

Streets are flooded after heavy rains in São Sebastião do Cai, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Thursday, May 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Carlos Macedo)

Firefighters evacuate people from a flooded area after heavy rains in Sao Sebastião do Cai, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Thursday, May 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Carlos Macedo)

Firefighters evacuate people from a flooded area after heavy rains in Sao Sebastião do Cai, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Thursday, May 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Carlos Macedo)

Streets are flooded after heavy rains in São Sebastião do Cai, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Thursday, May 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Carlos Macedo)

Streets are flooded after heavy rains in São Sebastião do Cai, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, Thursday, May 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Carlos Macedo)

Isolite Newman, 58, lives in the city of Lajedo in the Tacuari River Valley, and told the Associated Press that she had never before witnessed a scenario like the one she is experiencing now.

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“People were setting up barriers in front of hospitals with sand and gravel. “It felt like a horror movie,” she said over the phone. She added that some people in her area were so desperate that they threw themselves into the streams of water.

Newman’s neighborhood has not been flooded, but it has no running water and she has not showered since Tuesday. She said she collects rainwater in a basin so she can cook. She added that the clothing store she owned in the city’s central area was flooded.

“I don’t even know what it should be like. There should be nothing left.”

Marcelo Cellucci, chief meteorologist at the National Center for Monitoring and Warning of Natural Disasters, told the Brazilian public television network on Friday that the rainfall began on Monday and is expected to continue until at least Saturday.

On Thursday night, Gov. Eduardo Leyte alerted state residents – known as gauchos – of continuing rains and flooding. He added that the situation in Porto Alegre is expected to worsen.

“As a human being, I am destroyed inside, like any gaucho,” he said. But as governor, I am here to stand firm and guarantee that we will not falter. We do everything with focus, attention, discipline and rage, to ensure we get everything done within our reach.”

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva acknowledged the flood victims at a press conference on Friday Along with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Brasilia.

“Minister Fumio Kishida’s first words at our meeting were solidarity with the people of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, who were victims of one of the largest floods we have ever known,” Lula said. “Never before in the history of Brazil had there been such an amount of rain in one place.

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The weather throughout South America is affected by… El Niño climate phenomenonIt is a naturally occurring, periodic event that causes surface water temperatures in the tropical Pacific to rise. In Brazil, El Niño has historically caused droughts in the north and heavy rains in the south.

This year, the effects of El Niño have been particularly dramatic Historical drought in the Amazon region. Scientists say extreme weather is occurring more frequently due to human-caused climate change.

Karina Lima, a 36-year-old scientist and doctoral candidate in climatology at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, told The Associated Press that the state is located in a region with certain characteristics that increase El Niño’s destructive potential.

“Models have long predicted that Rio Grande do Sul will continue to see an increase in average annual rainfall and extreme rainfall, meaning more concentrated and intense rainfall,” she said.