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Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Rescue teams in southeastern Brazil achieved a remarkable feat, successfully extracting a girl from the debris of a collapsed house, where she had been trapped for over 16 hours. This rescue follows a devastating storm that has claimed the lives of at least twelve individuals. Authorities have mobilized teams to the mountainous regions of Rio de Janeiro state, characterizing the situation induced by the torrential downpour as “critical.”

The impact of the storm has been particularly severe in Rio state, where four fatalities occurred due to the collapse of a house in the city of Petropolis, located 70 kilometers (45 miles) inland from the capital. Tragically, the girl’s father was found deceased beside her, having reportedly shielded her with his body during the ordeal, as recounted by a neighbor to AFP.

Expressing a mixture of anguish and gratitude, Luis Claudio de Souza, aged 63, articulated, “We are in pain, but grateful for this miracle.” This calamity unfolds amidst a series of extreme weather events gripping Brazil, with experts attributing their frequency to climate change.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva underscored the escalating nature of environmental disasters, asserting on X, previously known as Twitter, that the impact of climate change is exacerbating such crises. He acknowledged the plight of the thousands rendered homeless by the storm and pledged government collaboration with state and local authorities to mitigate and manage flood-related damages.

Meanwhile, the governor of Espirito Santo, Renato Casagrande, characterized the situation in the town of Mimoso do Sul as “chaotic,” with the exact toll of casualties yet to be ascertained. In Sao Paolo state, two children were hospitalized due to storm-related injuries sustained on Friday.

In Rio state, Governor Claudio Castro declared a state of emergency in Petropolis, citing “intense rains and the overflowing of the Quitandinha River” as contributing factors. The deployment of dozens of soldiers equipped with search dogs underscores the magnitude of the rescue operation, with schools opening doors to accommodate the displaced populace.

The aftermath of the storm paints a harrowing picture, with images circulating in local media depicting torrents of water, mud, and debris cascading down slopes in Petropolis. The state fire department’s imagery revealed submerged neighborhoods in Mimoso do Sul, where a fire truck was observed being swept away by the deluge.

Weather forecasts portend continued heavy rainfall in the mountainous and northern regions of Rio, exacerbating the risk of further inundation. Petropolis alone recorded 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) of rainfall within 24 hours, significantly surpassing the average March precipitation. Rio authorities had preemptively declared a holiday and advised residents to remain indoors as the storm approached, following a preceding record heatwave that saw temperatures soaring above 62 degrees Celsius (143 degrees Fahrenheit) due to heightened humidity levels.

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