Heavy rains leave 39 people dead, thousands displaced

RIO GRANDE DO SUL, BRAZIL – A downpour of heavy rains in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul has reportedly claimed 39 lives, with local authorities breaking the news on Friday. The death toll is expected to rise exponentially as 68 individuals are yet to be located, and an estimated 24,000 locals have been forced from their homes. It’s reported that the violent storms have wreaked havoc on more than half of the 497 cities in the state, which also shares its borders with Uruguay and Argentina.

Eduardo Leite, the Governor of Rio Grande do Sul, warned reporters that the coming days might witness a material alteration in these figures as the authorities extend their capabilities to more regions affected by the storm. Numerous city streets have essentially transformed into rivers due to the rainfall, leading to extensive damage to roads and bridges. The severe weather conditions also incited landslides and brought about a partial failure of a dam structure at a small hydroelectric power plant.

A subsequent collapse risk has been detected in a second dam in Bento Goncalves city, forcing authorities to issue immediate evacuation orders for the local residents.

Indeed, Rio Grande do Sul endured a similar ordeal in September last year when an extratropical cyclone spurred floods that took over 50 lives. This extreme weather condition occurred after a persistent two-year drought triggered by the La Nina phenomenon, marked by scarce showers.

As relief measures are underway, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited the affected locations within the state on Thursday to assess the situation and talk about the rescue plans with the governor. Back in the capital of Brasilia, Lula pledged extensive federal support for local rescue and reconstruction endeavors.