Almost 70,000 people had to leave their homes, some 60 died and dozens are still missing in unprecedented floods in southern Brazil, which hit the modern capital of Porto Alegre hard on Saturday.

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The overflowing of water channels and landslides maintain Numerous roads were interrupted in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, affecting almost 320 towns.many of them, isolated.

As the hours pass, the crisis caused by the heavy rains becomes more evident: some 69,200 people left their homes, More than a million homes are without water and the damage to infrastructure is incalculable for now.according to Civil Defense.

The state will need a kind of “Marshall Plan” to rebuildstated Governor Eduardo Leite.

Porto Alegre, one of the largest cities in southern Brazil, with a population of almost 1.4 million, and especially its metropolitan region, were greatly affected.

According to the Mayor’s Office, the level of the Guaíba River located in the city marked 5.09 meters, above the record of 4.76 meters registered when the city suffered historic floods in 1941.

The city was in a state of chaos, AFP found. Many streets remained under water and residents tried to evacuate their homes.

In the midst of the rescue efforts, a Strong explosion at a gas station left two dead in the north of the city, confirmed an AFP journalist present at the time of the explosion.

The incident occurred when vehicles working in rescues were refueling at the flooded service station, from where a thick cloud of smoke emerged, visible from afar.

In many places, long lines formed to try to board a bus, while car drivers tried to make their way through the floodwaters.

The situation also forced the cancellation of the arrival and departure of buses to the city’s main station, which was flooded.

The Porto Alegre international airport suspended its operations on Friday for an indefinite period.

In the Navegantes neighborhood, in the northern area of ​​Porto Alegre, José Augusto Moraes de Lima asked the firefighters for help to rescue a child who was trapped in his house, since a leg problem prevented him from taking him with him.

“Suddenly, in a matter of minutes, everything flooded. I lost everything, television, wardrobe, bed, refrigerator,” the 61-year-old shopkeeper told AFP in distress.

Leite said it was a “dramatic” and “absolutely unprecedented” situation.

In a joint press conference with several ministers, who traveled to Porto Alegre to cooperate, the governor said he feared that the supply and production chain would be “compromised” in the region.

In a race against time, “tomorrow (Sunday) will be a key day for rescues,” said the Presidency’s communications minister, Paulo Pimenta.

The mayor of Porto Alegre, Sebastiao Melo, urged the population to ration water, after four of the city’s six treatment plants had to be closed.

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Baby rescue

Porto Alegre is the capital of one of the most thriving states in Brazil. It has essentially agricultural production, with large crops of soybeans, rice, wheat and corn.

In the state, 3,000 troops, including military and civilians, are trying to reach and supply numerous isolated municipalities, without communications and with blocked roads and even without electricity or internet.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva published a video of members of the armed forces rescuing a baby from a helicopter. In the images, an agent can be seen hitting the roof of a house with a brick in order to remove the creature, wrapped in a blanket.

Civil Defense reported in its latest balance that there are 55 deaths and seven more that are “under investigation.” In addition, it reported 74 missing and 107 injured.

Authorities are working to build shelters in sports centers and other facilities, which so far have received more than 13,300 people throughout the state, according to Civil Defense.

“Disastrous cocktail”

Aerial images of the area show huge surfaces completely flooded, bridges and roads washed away, and people being rescued on roofs with helicopters.

The Rio Grande Sul governorate said Saturday that the rains have begun to subside, but will still persist in the next 24 to 36 hours.

Overflowing channels may continue to cause landslideshe warned.

The rains impact the southern state of Santa Catarina, where on Friday a man died when his car was swept away by the current.

The “disastrous cocktail” of climate change and the El Niño meteorological phenomenon favored the devastating rains that hit the south of Brazil and other extreme events, Brazilian climatologist Francisco Eliseu Aquino told AFP.

The state of Rio Grande do Sul suffered several extreme weather events last year; the most serious, the passage of a cyclone in September that left more than 30 dead.

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