A cyclone that dumped hail and caused strong winds in southern Brazil left at least 21 deadannounced this Tuesday the governor of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, who lamented the worst toll of victims in a climate event in his region.
“Unfortunately, I now receive information that 15 bodies were located in the municipality of Mucum. This causes us immense pain and raises the death toll from six to 21,” Governor Eduardo Leite said at a press conference.
“It is the highest death toll in a climatic event” in the state, he added.
The cyclone impacted more than 62 municipalities and more than 52,000 people were affecteds, while the authorities reported 3,084 evicted people and 1,650 people who were left homeless.
The government of Rio Grande do Sul described a phenomenon that began on Monday with “hail, strong winds and storms” that caused “slides and flooding.”
“The water rose very quickly,” Leite said.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva expressed in the morning his “solidarity” with the affected populations and declared that his government is “ready to help”, during his weekly program on social networks.
In the town of Passo Fundo a man died electrocuted and in Ibiraiaras a couple died when their car was swept away by the current while crossing a bridge.
An elderly woman also died after falling into a river after the cable with which a lifeguard was trying to rescue her broke. The official was left in serious condition.
The g1 news portal reported the death of another person in the neighboring state of Santa Catarina.
But authorities warn that the worst is not over: Some rivers have exceeded flood levels and further rainfall is expected from Thursday.
Brazil suffers frequent extreme eventsand scientists do not rule out a link with the effects of climate change.
In June, the same state of Rio Grande do Sul also suffered a cyclone that left at least 13 dead, while thousands of people were evacuated or lost their homes.
Last February, 65 people died due to landslides caused by record rains that hit Sao Sebastiao, a beach tourist destination about 200 km from the city of Sao Paulo (southeast).
On that occasion, more than 600 mm of rain fell in 24 hours, more than double what was expected for the month.
Experts also attribute the devastating effects to uncontrolled urbanization.
Some 9.5 million of the 203 million inhabitants live in risk areas subject to landslides or flooding.