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Sat. May 25th, 2024

The death toll from devastating floods and mudslides in southern Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul state has risen to 56, with 67 people still missing, according to the nation’s civil defense agency. The torrential storms, which began earlier this week, have wreaked havoc across the region, forcing thousands from their homes and causing significant infrastructure damage.

The impact of the flooding has been particularly severe around the city of Porto Alegre, where rising water levels are straining dams and flooding several neighborhoods. Emergency services are conducting large-scale evacuations to ensure the safety of residents. In some areas, entire towns have become inaccessible due to the deluge, complicating rescue and recovery efforts.

Rio Grande do Sul’s infrastructure has taken a significant hit, with roads destroyed and bridges washed away by the powerful currents. Officials report that at least 265 municipalities have suffered storm damage, leading to dozens of injuries and the displacement of over 24,000 people, one-third of whom are currently housed in emergency shelters. The crisis has triggered a nationwide response as the region grapples with the aftermath of the storms.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited the devastated area on Thursday, assuring residents that the government would spare no effort in providing the necessary resources for recovery and relief. He attributed the severe weather events to climate change, emphasizing the need for long-term measures to mitigate future disasters. “There will be no lack of human or material resources,” the president stated during his visit.

Climatologist Francisco Eliseu Aquino from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul explained that the storms were the result of a combination of global warming and the El Nino weather phenomenon. “It’s a disastrous cocktail,” Aquino said, noting that Brazil has recently experienced a series of extreme weather events, including a cyclone in September that claimed at least 31 lives.

Aquino emphasized that the region’s geography, where tropical and polar air masses frequently converge, contributes to the volatility of the weather. However, he warned that the frequency and intensity of such events are likely to increase as climate change continues to have a pronounced impact on the global environment. As recovery efforts continue, officials are bracing for more challenges in the days ahead.

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