South Brazil's flood crisis: Death toll rises to over 100 as thousands are displaced

Written by Jakob A. Overgaard

May.09 - 2024 11:06 AM CET

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In a harrowing escalation of the flood crisis in Brazil's southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, the death toll has climbed to at least 100.

Local authorities are urgently coordinating rescue operations in an all-out effort to address the aftermath of the catastrophic flooding that has shattered the region.

As reported by Aljazera, the region witnessed an unprecedented deluge, resulting in the displacement of more than 80,000 residents. Record-breaking rains have submerged two-thirds of the state’s municipalities, causing extensive damage to infrastructure, including landslides, destroyed roads, and collapsed bridges.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his cabinet arrived in Rio Grande do Sul to oversee the operations, emphasizing the scale of the disaster as one of the most severe the country has faced.

The floodwaters have not only wreaked havoc on the ground but have also led to significant disruptions, including power outages and critical shortages in water supply, with over a million people affected.

Rescue efforts have seen teams navigating through waist-deep waters using four-wheel-drive vehicles and jetskis, desperately trying to reach those stranded.

Dramatic rescues have unfolded across the state, including a poignant moment captured on video when a soldier was lowered from a helicopter onto a rooftop to save a baby wrapped in a blanket.

The state capital, Porto Alegre, and other major cities have been particularly hard hit. In some areas, water levels reached historic highs, with aerial footage revealing vast stretches of residential zones submerged under floodwaters.

The crisis has forced the indefinite suspension of flights at Porto Alegre’s international airport, adding to the region's isolation.

Local meteorologists predict that while the intense rainfall is set to decrease, river levels are expected to remain high, prolonging the risk of further flooding.

State Governor Eduardo Leite described the situation as the worst climatic disaster ever faced by the state, a sentiment echoed by many on the ground and across social media platforms.

This catastrophic event underscores the increasing severity of weather patterns in the region, a phenomenon that scientists attribute to the ongoing climate crisis.

Just last year, the state grappled with an extratropical cyclone after enduring a prolonged drought, highlighting the extreme climatic variability that continues to challenge the resilience of Brazil’s southern states.

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