Videos: Brazil’s ‘worst natural calamity’ closes airport, floods roads

Heavy rain and subsequent flooding in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul have resulted in unprecedented devastation. The southern state has been virtually cut off from the rest of the country as roads and highways were flooded, while the main airport in Porto Alegre was closed since it was inundated as well. Officials have said this was the “worst natural calamity” to hit the state.

The floods that began last week have led to the deaths of at least 100 people as of Thursday, while more than 163,000 others had to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere. More than 270 people have also been injured.

The civil defence authority in the state that borders Uruguay and Venezuela said 128 people remained unaccounted for and urged people living close to the Patos lagoon south of Porto Alegre to leave their homes immediately as a result of the increasing floodwaters.

Days of torrential rain since last month led to rivers overflowing, resulting in the devastating floods that have affected some 1.4 million inhabitants of the state.

Currently, some 80 per cent of the population in Porto Alegre, the state capital, do not have access to running water after five of the city’s six water treatment plants stopped working, the BBC reported.

A flooded football stadium in Porto Alegre. (Photo: AFP)

The city’s Mayor has rationed drinking water and officials have deployed tankers to deliver water to the residents.

Speaking to the BBC, a resident said this was the first time that people living in Porto Alegre have “experienced anything like it”.

“There are thousands of people who lost their houses. Now we don’t have water anywhere. My mother-in-law is 90 years old and she had to be carried by the rescuers. It’s unbelievable what is going on here,” she added.

Meanwhile, Porto Alegre city hall warned civilian rescuers on Wednesday to halt their operations due to the forecast for additional rain, lightning storms and winds exceeding 80 km per hour, reports Reuters news agency.

Army troopers 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 10 feet and the streets can only be navigated by boat.

The southern region of Rio Grande do Sul state was still under “high risk” of more flooding, with rainfall expected to restart in the come days, Brazil’s national centre for natural disasters warned.

In a statement, weather forecaster MetSul said the region could witness “very large” floods “of serious proportions”.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Uruguay, storms and flooding have closed highways and left nearly 800 people displaced and over 3,000 people without power, according to the country’s government.

Published By:

Karishma Saurabh Kalita

Published On:

May 9, 2024

Leave a Comment