Heavy rains in southern Brazil have killed at least 31 people, with more than 70 missing

Thirty-one people have died as a result of heavy rains that hit Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state, according to local authorities.

The death toll is likely to rise as many more people remain missing.

Rio Grande do Sul, a state bordering Uruguay and Argentina, reported that at least 17,000 displaced people and more than 70 people remain missing, with about half of its 497 towns affected.

Streets in some communities practically turned into rivers, and bridges and highways were destroyed. A small hydroelectric power plant suffered landslides and the partial collapse of a dam due to the storm.

The report says a second dam in the town of Bento Goncalves is also at risk of collapse, authorities said, ordering people living nearby to evacuate.

Governor Eduardo Leite of Rio Grande do Sul said it is not just a critical situation; it is probably the most critical case the state has ever recorded.

He added that the death toll is likely to rise further as authorities have been unable to reach some locations.

President Luiz Silva traveled to the state to visit the affected locations and discuss rescue efforts with the governor.