Powerful storm leaves over 10 dead in southeast Brazil, rescue ops on

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A powerful storm has claimed more than 10 lives in southeastern Brazil, mostly in the mountainous parts of Rio de Janeiro state, where authorities on Saturday deployed rescue teams to deal with a “critical” situation.

The deluge came as Brazil, South America’s largest country, suffers through a string of extreme weather events, which experts say have become more likely due to climate change.

The storm caused a house to collapse in the city of Petropolis, 70 kilometers (45 miles) inland from the capital, killing four people, the Rio state government said.

An AFP team witnessed the rescue of a girl on Saturday morning who had been buried for more than 16 hours in the rubble.

Her father, who was found dead next to her, “heroically protected the girl with his body,” a neighbor and owner of a local bar told AFP.

“We are in pain, but grateful for this miracle,” said Luis Claudio de Souza, 63.

Other deaths were reported earlier in Santa Cruz da Serra, where a man drowned when his truck plunged into a river; in Teresopolis, where a resident died in a house collapse; and in Arraial do Cabo, where a person was struck by lightning.

Farther up the coast, in the state of Espirito Santo, officials reported four deaths.

And in Sao Paolo state, two children were hospitalized for injuries sustained during the storm on Friday.

Late Friday, Rio Governor Claudio Castro said the situation in Petropolis was “critical” due to “intense rains and the overflowing of the Quitandinha River.”

HEAT WAVE

Dozens of soldiers with dogs were deployed to the scene, while schools opened their doors to the displaced, the governor said.

Some 90 people have been rescued alive since Friday, according to a bulletin from an emergency committee comprising Rio government and civil defense officials.

Images on local media showed rivers of water, mud and debris rushing down slopes in picturesque Petropolis, where memories remain fresh of a catastrophic storm in February 2022 that claimed 241 lives.

In the town of Mimoso do Sul, a fire truck was seen being dragged down a street by currents.

Forecasts predicted heavy rainfall continuing Saturday in the mountains and north of Rio.

Petropolis has already recorded 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) in 24 hours, while other cities, such as Teresopolis and Mage, added more than 22 cm, according to official estimates.

The National Institute of Meteorology had predicted a severe storm, particularly in Rio, with rainfall of 20 cm a day from Friday through Sunday. Normally, the area receives 14 cm of rain in all of March.

Rio authorities had declared an administrative holiday on Friday as the storm approached and urged people to stay home.

The storm follows a record heat wave, when humidity helped send the heat index soaring above 62 degrees Celsius (143 degrees Fahrenheit).

Published By:

Shweta Kumari

Published On:

Mar 24, 2024

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