Heavy rains in southern Brazil leave at least 10 dead

Heavy rains in Minas Gerais state have claimed at least 10 lives and left 21 people missing since Monday, according to the country’s civil defense on Wednesday. An additional 11 individuals were hurt and over 3,300 had to depart their homes due to harm caused by the storms, the civil defense added. Operators reported electricity and water cuts across the state, and authorities detailed numerous incidents of flooded roads, landslides and collapsed bridges as water levels of rivers and streams rose sharply. Officials activated the Brazilian Air Force to assist stranded people. It deployed two helicopters for the rescue mission. The southern state’s crisis Cabinet met on Wednesday. Rescuing people in isolated and island areas is the priority, Souza said, according to a statement. Authorities had registered more than 130 rescue requests by Wednesday morning. “There is a special concern with dams in an alert situation, with risk of failure and flooding due to very high levels,” Souza added. Residents in nearby areas are being relocated, he said. The downpour started Monday and was expected to last through Friday, civil defense authorities said. In some areas, such as valleys, mountain slopes and cities, more than 6 inches of rain fell in 24 hours, said Brazil’s National Institute of Meteorology, known by the Portuguese acronym INMET, on Tuesday. Weather across Minas Gerais is affected by the climate phenomenon El Niño, a periodic naturally occurring event that warms surface waters in the Equatorial Pacific region. In Brazil, El Niño has historically caused droughts in the north and intense rainfall in the south. This year, the impacts of El Niño have been particularly dramatic, with a historic drought in the Amazon. Scientists say extreme weather is happening more frequently due to human-caused climate change.