At least 75 dead, over 100 missing in Brazilian floods | At least 75 dead, over 100 missing in Brazilian floods Climate Crisis News

More than 88,000 people have been evacuated due to flooding in Rio Grande do Sul state in southern Brazil.

At least 75 people have died in Brazil’s southern Rio Grande do Sul state over the past seven days due to severe flooding, and another 103 are missing, local authorities have announced.

More than 88,000 people have been forced from their homes due to rain damage, state civil defense officials said Sunday. Approximately 16,000 people evacuated to temporary evacuation centers such as schools and gymnasiums.

The floods left landslides, washed out roads, and collapsed bridges across the state. Telecommunications operators reported power and communications disruptions. More than 800,000 people are without water, the Civil Defense said, citing figures from water company Corsan.

“Let me reiterate: the devastation we are experiencing is unprecedented,” Governor Eduardo Leite said Sunday morning. He previously said the state would need “a sort of ‘Marshall Plan’ to rebuild.”

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visited Rio Grande do Sul for the second time on Sunday, accompanied by Defense Minister José Musio, Finance Minister Fernando Haddad and Environment Minister Marina Silva. Rieder and his team surveyed the flooded streets of the state capital, Porto Alegre, from a helicopter.

“We have to stop putting disasters on the back burner. We need to know in advance what disasters can happen and tackle them,” President Lula told reporters afterward.

A man walks by a farm destroyed by flash floods caused by heavy rains in Jacarezinho, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. [Diego Vara/Reuters]

Water levels in the Guaiba River reached a record level of 5.33 meters (17.5 feet) on Sunday morning, surpassing the level of 4.76 meters (15.6 feet) seen during the historic flood of 1941.

During Sunday Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis said he was praying for the people of the Vatican. “May the Lord welcome the dead and comfort those who have had to abandon their families and homes,” he said.

The heavy rains were expected to start on Monday and continue into Sunday. Brazil’s National Meteorological Institute, known by its Portuguese acronym INMET, said on Thursday that some areas, including valleys, mountain slopes and cities, could see more than 300 millimeters (11.8 inches) in less than a week. It rained.

Rescue workers evacuate flood victims in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, May 5, 2024.Reuters/Renan Mattos
Rescue workers evacuate flood victims in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. [Renan Mattos/Reuters]

The heavy rains are the fourth such environmental disaster in the state in the past year, following floods in July, September and November 2023 that killed 75 people.

Weather across South America is influenced by El Niño, a periodic natural phenomenon that warms surface waters in the equatorial Pacific region. In Brazil, El Niño events have historically caused drought in the north and torrential rains in the south.

This year, the El Niño phenomenon has had a particularly strong impact, causing a historic drought in the Amazon. Scientists say extreme weather events are becoming more frequent due to human-induced climate change.

“These tragedies will continue to occur, and they will get worse and more frequent,” said Suely Araujo, public policy coordinator at the Climate Observatory, a network of dozens of environmental and social organizations. Deaf,” he said.

In a statement Friday, he said Brazil needs to adapt to the effects of climate change, referring to a process known as adaptation.

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