More intense rain expected in Brazil as death toll reaches 107

More heavy rain is expected to pummel Brazil, as the South American nation grapples with the deadly fallout of last week’s extreme weather, which submerged whole neighbourhoods.

The heavy rains and floods have killed at least 107 people in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul since last week, the state’s civil defense agency said Thursday morning.

Some 1 476 000 people have been affected, according to the civil defense, with at least 754 people left injured and about 164 000 displaced. At least 134 people are still missing.

The catastrophic floods have been accompanied by social upheaval, with at least 47 people arrested for looting and other crimes amid the chaos. Six of those arrested are suspected of committing sexual abuse in shelters for people whose homes were impacted by the floods, according to state-run media Agencia Brasil.

But officials are urging those who have been rescued from the floods not to return to their homes, warning that more rain is in the forecast.

From Friday to Sunday, intense rainfall is expected to hit again between the east and center-north of Rio Grande do Sul, with some areas expecting 100 mm (nearly four inches), the national meteorology institute INMET said Wednesday night.

“It is important to highlight that the predicted volumes of rain may cause new disruptions in areas already affected previously,” a statement from INMET read.

The record rainfall hitting the region has been linked to El Niño, a natural climate phenomenon that warms waters in the Pacific and tends to bring heavy rainfall to southern Brazil. Long-term global warming caused primarily by humans burning fossil fuels has also exacerbated extreme weather in the region.

With many of southern Brazil’s communications downed by the storms, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk also announced in a post on X Thursday that Starlink will donate 1 000 internet terminals to emergency responders in the region.

According to Rio Grande do Sul’s government, it will require the equivalent of $3.7 billion US dollars to rebuild.

The latest storms have also flooded parts of neighbouring Uruguay, leaving some 1 347 people displaced and thousands more without electricity, the national emergency system said Wednesday night. (CNN)

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