At least 29 people killed, more missing in Brazil heavy rains

At least 29 people have been killed and 60 are missing after heavy rains battered southern Brazil, and the state government is sending rescue helicopters to search for stranded residents, authorities said Thursday.

Experts say the heavy rains that have fallen in Rio Grande do Sul in recent days were well above normal for this time of year.

The state recorded about 70% of the precipitation the state typically records during the month in the last four days of April, according to National Weather Institute data analyzed by The New York Times.

The rains caused rivers to swell across the state’s lowlands in the central valley, flooding towns, collapsing bridges, blocking roads and causing landslides. One town, Canudos de Vale, was left isolated without electricity or communications. In the town of Candelaria, residents waited on the roofs of their flooded homes for rescue helicopters.

Nearly 10,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes, Rio Grande do Sul state’s civil defense agency said in a statement. The crisis prompted Grande do Sul Governor Eduardo Leite to declare a state of emergency late Wednesday.

“We are experiencing the worst moment in Rio Grande do Sul, the worst disaster in the history of our country,” Leite said at a press conference Wednesday. “And unfortunately, the situation will only get worse.”

Authorities are struggling to reach stranded residents, with search and rescue teams unable to reach some areas due to rising river levels and widespread flooding. With nowhere to land, some helicopters used winches to pull residents out of flooded areas.

“We won’t be able to do all the rescues,” Leite said Wednesday.

Meteorologists warned that more rain was possible over the next few days, which could further complicate rescue efforts.

The country’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, visited the region on Thursday. promised The federal agency said it would “join state and local governments in their efforts to help us through this difficult time.”

Last year, 37 people died in the same region of Brazil due to heavy rains and strong winds caused by a cyclone.

National Meteorological Institute Said The region is reeling from a natural weather phenomenon known as El Niño, which could bring heavy rain to Brazil’s southern regions and trigger drought in the Amazon rainforest.

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