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Videos: Airport closed and roads flooded by Brazil's 'worst natural calamity'

Photo-AFP

Heavy rain and subsequent flooding in Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul have unleashed unprecedented devastation, severing the southern state from the rest of the country. Roads and highways became submerged, while the main airport in Porto Alegre was forced to close its doors due to inundation. Officials have labeled this as the "worst natural calamity" to hit the state in recent memory.

The floods, which began last week, have left a trail of destruction, claiming the lives of at least 100 people as of Thursday. Moreover, over 163,000 individuals have been displaced from their homes, seeking refuge elsewhere. Shockingly, more than 270 people have sustained injuries amid the chaos.

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The civil defense authority in the state, bordering Uruguay and Venezuela, has issued urgent warnings, with 128 individuals still unaccounted for. Residents living near the Patos lagoon, south of Porto Alegre, have been urged to evacuate immediately as floodwaters continue to rise.

Days of relentless rain since last month have caused rivers to overflow, exacerbating the catastrophic floods that have impacted around 1.4 million inhabitants of the state. The situation has become dire, with approximately 80% of the population in Porto Alegre lacking access to running water, as five out of six water treatment plants have ceased operations.

To mitigate the crisis, the city's mayor has implemented water rationing measures, while authorities have mobilized tanker trucks to distribute water to residents. The severity of the situation is evident, with one resident expressing disbelief at the unprecedented events unfolding in Porto Alegre. Thousands have lost their homes, and basic necessities like water are now scarce commodities.

Meanwhile, Porto Alegre city hall has issued a warning to civilian rescuers to suspend their operations due to forecasts predicting additional rainfall, lightning storms, and winds exceeding 80 km per hour. Despite the risks, army troopers have stepped in, utilizing amphibious armored vehicles to conduct rescue missions in areas like Canoas, north of the city.

In Canoas, where floodwaters have reached depths of up to 10 feet, and the streets have transformed into waterways navigable only by boat, the situation remains dire. The resilience of the affected communities is being tested as they grapple with the aftermath of this unprecedented natural disaster.

May 9, 2024 1:32 p.m. 6334

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