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WATCH: Horse rescued from rooftop after two days in Brazil as devastating floods kill 107

The devastating floods in Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul has left 136 people missing and over 165,000 displaced as rescue operations continued by boats and helicopters. Several streets have already turned into rivers and more rains were expected in the coming days.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Porto Alegre Published on: May 10, 2024 12:44 IST
Brazil floods, Rio Grande do Sul, people killed
Image Source : REUTERS People are reeling from the deadly floods in Brazil's southern Rio Grande do Sul state.

Porto Alegre: Floods continue to devastate Brazil's southern state of Rio Grande do Sul as the death count from the flooding has now reached 107 as rescue operations continue, according to civil defence on Thursday. Despite the mounting cost of the severe flooding, the water levels are expected to rise even further as more rains are forecast in the coming days.

The nearby state of Porto Alegre is almost completely inundated as heavy rains have transformed streets into rivers. At least 136 people are still missing and more than 165,000 have been displaced from flooded homes and rescued by boats and helicopters. The floods have also destroyed infrastructure and bridges, blocking access to Porto Alegre.

In a dramatic symbol of the escalating disaster, a stranded horse was rescued from a rooftop by authorities after it was trapped precariously there for two days in a badly flooded town. Television images showed the horse straddling the roof of a farmhouse on the outskirts of Canoas, a town north of Porto Alegre. The animal was secured by firemen and loaded into a Zodiac inflatable boat to be taken to safety.

Watch the video:

According to the Brazilian Geological Service, the statewide flooding has surpassed that seen during a historic 1941 deluge. In some cities, water levels were at their highest since records began nearly 150 years ago, the agency said. In Porto Alegre, the Guaiba lake broke its banks and flooded the streets. All flights from Porto Alegre's international airport have been suspended for an indefinite period.

Authorities had to briefly interrupt rescue operations on Wednesday due to more rain and the risk of lightning and stiff winds that threaten to exacerbate a catastrophe that forced over 165,000 to seek shelter. Army soldiers used amphibious armoured cars to rescue people from flooding in Canoas, just north of the city, where the waters have reached a depth of some three meters (10 ft) and the streets can only be navigated by boat.

In Brazil, many residents in and around Porto Alegre, a city of 1.3 million people, have been living in darkness after power companies cut off electricity for security reasons. In neighbouring Uruguay, storms and flooding have closed highways and left nearly 800 people displaced and over 3,000 people without power, the government said.

Mounting financial cost of floods

Rio Grande do Sul Governor Eduardo Leite said initial calculations indicate that Rio Grande do Sul will need at least 19 billion reais ($3.68 billion) to rebuild from the damage, which has extended into farm areas around the capital. "The effect of the floods and the extent of the tragedy are devastating," he said on social media.

In Brasilia, the federal government estimated the fiscal impact of the flooding at 7.7 billion reais ($1.49 billion), mostly due to the injection of funds into a support program for small businesses hit by the floods. "This doesn't end here," President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said at an event announcing steps to help the stricken state. Lula said the full extent of Rio Grande do Sul's needs would be known only when the water recedes.

Rio Grande do Sul is at a geographical meeting point between tropical and polar atmospheres, which has created a weather pattern with periods of heavy rains and others of drought. Local scientists believe the pattern has been intensifying due to climate change.

(with inputs from Reuters)

ALSO READ | At least 56 killed, several missing in worst floods in over 80 years in Brazil, flight operations take a hit


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