The southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul is grappling with a catastrophic cyclone-induced disaster. Heavy rains and fierce winds have led to extensive flooding and landslides, resulting in at least 21 tragic fatalities. The continuous torrential downpour has raised the risk of further floods, posing considerable challenges for relief and rescue operations.
Numerous homes in the affected areas have been inundated, and rivers are swelling dangerously. Eduardo Leite, the governor of Rio Grande do Sul, has labeled it the most perilous weather catastrophe in the state’s history.
According to authorities, thousands of residents have been compelled to flee their homes in various regions. In the small town of Mukum, with a population of 5,000, a large number of individuals found themselves stranded on their house roofs. Many were rescued by air support. Shockingly, approximately 85 percent of the town is submerged beneath floodwaters.
Impact of Heavy Rains and Landslides
Rio Grande do Sul’s governor reported an astounding 300 mm (11 inches) of rainfall in the last 24 hours, leading to widespread incidents of flooding and landslides. Helicopters are essential for evacuations, and numerous residences have crumbled due to the relentless rains. Several people remain unaccounted for, prompting President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to emphasize the government’s commitment to safeguarding citizens from the floods.
This disaster comes after a similar event in February, which saw heavy rains causing floods and landslides in the Sao Paulo state, claiming 40 lives. In the previous year, torrential rains triggered devastating landslides in Recife, resulting in 100 casualties. Experts link these recurring natural calamities to the effects of deforestation near the Amazon, influencing Brazil’s climate and increasing vulnerability to such disasters.