A storm has devastated the southern state of Rio Grande Sul, the latest in a string of extreme weather events.
A cyclone has devastated southern Brazil, with flooding in several cities leaving at least 21 people dead and displacing hundreds more.
Authorities in the state of Rio Grande do Sul said on Tuesday that more bodies are being found as flood waters recede. Governor Eduardo Leite said that about 60 cities were affected by the storm.
“Since dawn, we saw that [the water] was going to flood [our house], and we were putting things on top of the table, on top of the wood stove, but it didn’t help,” Luana Da Luz, a resident of the town of Passo Fundo, told the Reuters news agency.
Estimates for the number of people forced from their homes vary. The Associated Press estimates 1,650 have been displaced, while the news agency AFP cited a higher statistic: 3,700.
In addition to the 21 lives lost in Rio Grande do Sul, one death was confirmed in the neighbouring state of Santa Catarina, according to Reuters.
Massive floods due to heavy rains in Nova Bassano of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil 🇧🇷 (04.09.2023)
— Disaster News (@Top_Disaster) September 4, 2023
Tuesday’s cyclone is the latest in a string of extreme weather events to heap misery on Brazil, underscoring the risks of storms driven to greater frequency and intensity by climate change.
In June, a cyclone in southern Brazil killed 13 people and displaced thousands from their homes. In February, landslides and flooding triggered by torrential rainfall killed at least 65 people in the state of Sao Paulo.
Leite said that Monday’s flooding marks the state’s highest death toll ever from a climate-related event. He stated that 15 of the reported deaths occurred in the city of Mucum.
Videos on social media showed the town overwhelmed by rising water.
“There are still people missing. The death toll might climb higher,” Mayor Mateus Trojan told Radio Gaucha. “The town of Mucum as we knew it no longer exists.”
“I would like to express my solidarity with the population of Rio Grande do Sul, which is experiencing the heavy rains that have already caused the death of at least four people,” Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said in a social media post earlier in the day.
“The head of civil defence goes to the state to help remedy the problems caused by heavy rains. We will do everything to help the Gaucha population through this moment.”