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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Flooding from cyclone in southern Brazil kills at least 37

By John Yoon

A cyclone battered southern Brazil early this week, killing at least 37 people, displacing 3,500 others and prompting the federal government to dispatch helicopters for rescues, authorities said late Wednesday.

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

More rainfall was on the way, and some areas could get more than 11 inches of rain this week, Brazil’s 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 exceeding 62 mph in Santa Catarina, the state’s Civil Defense said Tuesday.

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

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

Rescuers continued to search for people stranded in flooded areas overnight 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, and the officer was seriously injured.

The Civil Defense 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 throughout the state until Thursday morning. Flood warnings were in place Wednesday 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 in June that killed at least 11 people.

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