Brazil Floods: Death Toll Rises in Rio Grande do Sul Catastrophe

At least 75 people have lost their lives in massive floods that struck Brazil’s southern Rio Grande do Sul state over the past seven days, with another 103 individuals reported missing, according to local authorities. The floods have also left 155 people injured, while more than 88,000 residents have been forced from their homes due to the damage caused by the rains. Approximately 16,000 individuals have sought refuge in temporary shelters, including schools and gymnasiums.

The devastating floods have resulted in landslides, washed-out roads, collapsed bridges, and disruptions to electricity and communications across the state. More than 800,000 people are without access to water, as reported by the civil defence agency citing figures from water company Corsan. Rescue efforts have been underway, with footage showing an elderly man being airlifted to safety from a remote area in the Bento Gonçalves municipality.

The Guaiba river reached a record level of 5.33 metres (17.5 feet) on Sunday morning, surpassing levels seen during a historic 1941 deluge. State Governor Eduardo Leite described the devastation as unprecedented and emphasized the need for significant reconstruction efforts, likening it to a “kind of Marshall Plan.” Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visited the affected areas, pledging support for recovery efforts alongside other government officials.

The heavy rains, which began on Monday and were expected to continue through Sunday, have exacerbated an already challenging situation. Brazil has experienced several environmental disasters in the past year, with floods occurring in July, September, and November 2023. Scientists attribute the increased frequency of extreme weather events to human-caused climate change and emphasize the importance of adaptation measures to mitigate future risks.

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