Race against time to rescue Brazil flood victims after dozens killed

Military members help displaced people after the overflow of the Guaiba river in Porto Alegre, Brazil, May 4, 2024. /CFP

Military members help displaced people after the overflow of the Guaiba river in Porto Alegre, Brazil, May 4, 2024. /CFP

Authorities were racing against time on Sunday to rescue people from raging floods and mudslides that have killed more than 50 and forced nearly 70,000 to flee their homes in southern Brazil.

Viewed from the air, Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul state, is completely flooded, with streets waterlogged and the roofs of some houses barely visible.

The Guaiba River, which flows through the city of 1.4 million people, reached a record high level of 5.09 meters (16.9 feet), according to the local municipality, well above the historic peak of 4.76 meters that had stood as a record since devastating 1941 floods.

The water was still advancing into economically important Porto Alegre and around a hundred other localities, with increasingly dramatic consequences.

In addition to some 70,000 residents forced from their homes, Brazil’s civil defense agency also said more than a million people lacked access to potable water amid the flooding, describing the damage as incalculable.

The agency put the death toll at 55, although that did not include two people killed in an explosion at a flooded gas station in Porto Alegre that was witnessed by an AFP journalist.

At least 74 people are also missing, it said.

Source(s): AFP