Dozens dead, thousands displaced by cyclone-whipped floods

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A cyclone has battered southern Brazil, unleashing floods that killed at least 37 people and displaced 3500 others.

Since Sunday, the storm has brought strong winds and floods to the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, submerging dozens of cities, according to the Ministry of Social Development. More than a dozen fatalities were reported in one town.

A home destroyed by floods in Mucum, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.Credit: AP

More rainfall was on the way, and some areas could get more than 29 centimetres of rain this week, the National Institute of Meteorology said. Authorities also warned of further flooding near three rivers in the region.

The storm, which forecasters described as an extratropical cyclone, also spawned a tornado and winds of 100km/h in Santa Catarina, the state’s Civil Defence said.

Damage from the storm was reported in 79 municipalities across Rio Grande do Sul, where roofs of more than 300 houses were stripped off and bridges collapsed, the state government said in a statement. Of the victims, 14 were in Muçum, a town where houses and roads were submerged, it said.

“We are dismayed by the lethality of this weather event and mobilised to save all those still in danger,” Rio Grande do Sul Governor Eduardo Leite said on social media.

An extratropical cyclone in southern Brazil caused floods in several cities, killing dozens of people.Credit: AP

Rescuers continued to search for people stranded in flooded areas as the police and military deployed aircraft, helicopters and boats, the state government said.

“Night has arrived, the temperature has dropped, and there are people waiting for help in the open air,” Leite said. One victim, he said, was a woman who died during a rescue attempt on the Taquari River. She and her rescuer fell. The officer was seriously injured.

The Civil Defence in Rio Grande do Sul has issued multiple flood and landslide warnings throughout the state this week. Alerts for power outages, hail and wind gusts were active until Thursday morning. Flood warnings were in place near the Taquari River, the Das Antas River and the Caí River, which course through towns and mountains in southern Brazil.

Rio Grande do Sul was slammed by another cyclone that killed at least 11 people in June.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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