Southern Brazil Reels from Cyclone’s Path of Destruction, 13 Fatalities Reported
Deadly Cyclone Devastates Southern Brazil, Leaving 13 Dead and Thousands Displaced
Southern Brazil is reeling from the destructive impact of a cyclone that tore through the region, claiming the lives of at least 13 individuals and displacing numerous residents from their homes. Local authorities confirmed the tragic casualties on Sunday, following the torrential rain and powerful winds that wreaked havoc on Thursday and Friday. The storm’s path of destruction extended across several towns in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, including the capital city of Porto Alegre, marking yet another severe weather event to strike South America’s largest country.
The coastal town of Caraa, one of the hardest hit areas, reported the discovery of two additional bodies, bringing the storm’s death toll to 13, as reported by the state civil defense agency. Search efforts are still underway for three individuals who remain missing in Caraa, a revision from the initial count of 20 on Saturday.
The town of Tramandai experienced significant damage, with official figures indicating recorded windspeeds reaching up to 101.9 kilometers (60 miles) per hour. Local media highlighted the heartbreaking loss of a four-month-old infant, while footage circulated showing the powerful winds sweeping a car into a cemetery. A survivor in Sao Leopoldo, who preferred to remain anonymous, shared her harrowing experience, stating, “The water came up to our waist inside the house. Thank God, the firemen arrived quickly and got us out on boats. It seemed like a nightmare.”
Emergency measures were employed, including helicopter evacuations, as nearly 5,000 individuals found themselves with damaged houses. On Sunday, approximately 84,000 people remained without electricity, while authorities had already evacuated around 80 individuals from high-risk areas as a precautionary measure.
Governor Eduardo Leite of Rio Grande do Sul personally assessed the worst-affected areas via helicopter on Saturday, accompanied by government officials and rescue teams. During his visit to Caraa, he toured a community center providing shelter to hundreds of people whose homes were destroyed by the storm. In a statement, the governor expressed deep concern about the situation in Caraa and emphasized the urgent need for integrated efforts to identify the affected areas and extend support to those in need.
State firefighters have been tirelessly conducting rescue operations, having successfully saved approximately 2,400 people in the past two days. Governor Leite stressed that the primary objective at present is to protect and save lives, rescue isolated individuals, locate the missing, and provide support to affected families.
Sao Leopoldo, a city with a population of 240,000 located just 30 minutes from Porto Alegre, experienced an unprecedented deluge, with 246 mm (9.7 inches) of rainfall in a span of 18 hours—the highest ever recorded in the city’s history, according to Mayor Ary Jose Vanazzi. As of Sunday, towns such as Novo Hamburgo, Lindolfo Collor, and Sao Leopoldo still grappled with flooded streets.
While the rain subsided, soldiers managed to initiate rescue operations in Novo Hamburgo. However, there are concerns about potential exacerbation of the situation due to anticipated further rainfall and cold temperatures expected in the middle of next week. This ongoing series of deadly weather disasters in Brazil has led experts to attribute their severity to the impact of climate change.
Earlier this year, in February, Sao Paulo, a southeastern state, suffered the loss of at least 65 lives as torrential rain triggered floods and landslides. The country continues to confront these challenging weather events, highlighting the urgent need for proactive measures to address climate change’s effects and protect vulnerable communities.