[More than 6,000 people were forced to leave their homes due to intense downpours, landslides and flooding. With more rain forecast, the situation is expected to worsen.]
An extratropical cyclone that struck southern Brazil has caused severe floods and killed at least 21 people, officials said Tuesday.
The state of Rio Grande do Sul saw hail and more than 300 millimeters (almost 12 inches) of rain in less than 24 hours, authorities said.
“We were deeply saddened to get the news that as the water recedes… 15 more bodies were found in the town of Mucum, bringing the death toll to 21,” Rio Grande do Sul Governor Eduardo Leite told a news conference.
Hundreds of people in the state are still without contact.
The severe weather, which began Monday, led to significant damage, with over 6,000 people displaced from their homes due to intense rain, landslides, and flooding.
“Since dawn, we saw that (the water) was going to flood (our house) and we were putting things on top of the table, on top of the wood stove, but it didn’t help,” said Luana da Luz, a resident of the town of Passo Fundo in Rio Grande do Sul.
“I feel devastated. I lost everything,” said Dice Reginatto, from the city of Nova Bassano. “There are many people who lost much more, but here at home I have nothing left.”
Lula assures help
Mucum, a town with 5,000 inhabitants, saw nearly 85% of its area inundated by the Taquari river, leading to hundreds requiring rooftop rescues.
Hundreds of emergency personnel were deployed and helicopters were sent to assist in isolated regions.
“There are still people missing. The death toll might climb higher,” Mayor Mateus Trojan said. “The town of Mucum as we knew it no longer exists.”
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva expressed solidarity and pledged federal government support.
With more rain forecast in the coming days, authorities warn the situation could worsen.