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Brazil floods: More rain expected as people await rescue

May 11, 2024

Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul is expecting more rain as it grapples with the fallout of last week's fatal floods. At least 126 people have died and many thousands have been displaced from their homes.

People who have been evacuated from flooded areas rest at a gym used as a shelter in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil May 10, 2024
People rested at a makeshift shelter in Porto AlegreImage: Diego Vara/REUTERS

People in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul were bracing for more rains this weekend, as efforts to rescue people stranded by last week's flooding in the state continued Saturday.

The state capital, Porto Alegre, was virtually cut off as the worst flooding in 80 years submerged entire neighborhoods. The airport and bus station remain closed.

An army tank used to carry out rescue efforts in Porto Alegre
Many streets in Porto Alegre remain entirely submergedImage: Diego Vara/REUTERS

Five of Porto Alegre's six water treatment facilities were not working as of earlier this week, with the mayor issuing a decree to conserve water so it can only be used for "essential consumption."

Rains to persist until Monday

Brazil's national meteorology institute forecast on Friday afternoon that more than 15 centimeters (roughly 6 inches) of rain could fall over the weekend. Rains would persist until Monday, it said.

Authorities said there was a high likelihood that winds would intensify and water levels would rise in the Patos lagoon — the largest in Brazil situated just south of Porto Alegre.

Volunteers row a boat as they search for people affected by floods in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil May 10, 2024.
Volunteers have also helped out in efforts to seek survivorsImage: Diego Vara/REUTERS

Hundreds of thousands displaced from homes

Authorities in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, home to some 10.9 million people, have said at least 126 people died during the flooding.

More than 230,000 people have been displaced from their homes, with thousands living in makeshift shelters in schools and gymnasiums. Another 136 people are still missing.

In Canoas, one of the state's worst-hit cities, more than 6,000 people were staying in a college gymnasium that has been turned into a temporary shelter.

olunteers carry dogs that have been evacuated from a flooded area in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil May 10, 2024.
Rio Grande do Sul state agents said they have rescued about 10,000 animals since last week. Volunteers have saved thousands moreImage: Diego Vara/REUTERS

The UN Refugee Agency was on the ground, distributing blankets and mattresses, as well as kitchen sets and hygiene kits. The Brazilian air force has parachuted over 2 tons of food and water to areas that are inaccessible because of blocked roads.

On Thursday, Brazil's federal government announced a package of 50.9 billion real (roughly $10 billion or €9.1 billion) for people of Rio Grande do Sul, which it said would include bringing forward payment of social benefits and providing cheaper loans to farmers and companies.

Brazil's President Lula da Silva visits flood-hit region

Rio Grande do Sul is at a geographical meeting point between tropical and polar atmospheres, which has created a weather pattern with periods of intense rains and others of drought.

Local scientists have said the pattern has been intensifying due to climate change. 

rm/msh (Reuters, AP)