Deadly floods ravage Brazil, at least 39 dead, 70 missing

Rio Grande do Sul governor Eduardo Leite said the calamity is "the biggest disaster in the state" and that Rio Grande do Sul is in a "state of war"

More than 8,000 people have already been rescued by land and air (@EduardoLeite_/X)
More than 8,000 people have already been rescued by land and air (@EduardoLeite_/X)

NH Digital

The death toll from heavy rains in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul has risen to 39, with nearly 70 people still missing, the civil defence agency said on Friday.

The heavy rainfall is one of the worst climate tragedies in the nation, and has so far affected 235 municipalities, including the state capital of Porto Alegre, according to the agency.

This is the fourth such environmental disaster in a year, following floods in July, September and November last year, which killed 75 people in all, according to a Guardian report. The flooding has surpassed of the notorious 1941 deluge, according to the Brazilian Geological Service. In some cities, water levels were at their highest since records began to be kept nearly 150 years ago, the Guardian reported the agency as saying.

Rio Grande do Sul has seen persistent rainfall since 29 April, causing rivers to swell, destroying bridges, and putting the capital city of Porto Alegre, with a population of more than 1.4 million, on alert, Xinhua news agency reported.

Heavy rains also spread to the neighbouring state of Santa Catarina, where a person was killed in the flooding and landslides.

Recognising the calamity, the Brazilian government has sent equipment and financial aid to Rio Grande do Sul. Operators reported electricity, communications and water cuts across the state as more than 24,000 people were displaced by the disaster, according to the agency.

"These will be difficult days. We ask people to leave their homes. Our goal is to save lives. Things will be lost, but we must preserve lives. Our priority is to rescue people. As for the rest, we'll find the way ahead," governor Eduardo Leite said. He confirmed that this is "the biggest disaster in the state" and that Rio Grande do Sul is in a "state of war".

On Thursday, a dam at a hydroelectric plant between the cities of Bento Goncalves and Cotipora partially collapsed and cities in the Taquari River valley, such as Lajeado and Estrela, were completely swamped by water. In Feliz, 80 km from Porto Alegre, a massively swollen river swept away a bridge that connected it with neighboring Linha Nova.

Rio Grande do Sul is Brazil's southernmost state, bordering Argentina and Uruguay. In its northeast lies the Vale dos Vinhedos wine region known for its picturesque natural settings, while capital Porto Alegre is a major port city. 

With agency inputs

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines

Published: 04 May 2024, 12:31 PM