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‘Desperate’ rescues under way as Brazil floods kill 90, displace thousands

‘Desperate’ rescues under way as Brazil floods kill 90, displace thousands

Thousands in Brazil’s southern Rio Grande do Sul state lack water and electricity as floodwaters inundate entire towns.

Rescuers are rushing to evacuate people stranded by floodwaters across the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, where at least 90 people have been killed and more than 130 others are missing.

The state capital of Porto Alegre has been virtually cut off by the flooding, with the airport and bus station closed and main roads blocked.

Reporting from the city on Tuesday afternoon, Al Jazeera’s Latin America editor Lucia Newman said the situation had become “very desperate” as volunteers and rescue crews try to evacuate residents.

(Al Jazeera)

“Everywhere you look, people have no water, no electricity. Sewage has, in this part of town which is downtown, completely come up.”

The state’s Civil Defence agency said the death toll has risen to 90 with another four deaths being investigated. Another 131 people are still unaccounted for, and 155,000 are homeless.

Heavy rains that began last week have caused rivers to flood, inundating whole towns and destroying roads and bridges.

In Porto Alegre, a city of 1.3 million residents on the Guaiba River, residents faced empty supermarket shelves and closed gas stations, with shops rationing sales of mineral water.

Five of Porto Alegre’s six water treatment facilities are not working, and Mayor Sebastiao Melo on Monday decreed that water be used exclusively for “essential consumption”.

“We are living an unprecedented natural disaster, and everyone needs to help,” Melo told reporters.

“I am getting water trucks to football fields, and people will have to go there to get their water in bottles. I cannot get them to go home to home.”

Almost half a million people were without power in Porto Alegre and outlying towns, as electricity companies cut off supplies for security reasons in flooded neighbourhoods.

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