Death toll from rain in southern Brazil rises to 56, while around 70 remain missing

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – The death toll from rain in Brazil’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul, rose to 56 on Saturday morning, with dozens still missing.

Rio Grande do Sul’s Civil Protection Authority said 67 people were still missing and nearly 25,000 displaced after storms hit more than half of the 497 towns in the state, which borders Uruguay and Argentina.

Floods destroyed roads and bridges in several regions of the state. The storm also caused landslides and the partial collapse of a dam at a small hydroelectric power station. A second dam in the town of Bento Goncalves is also at risk of collapse, authorities said.

In Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, the Guaiba River overflowed its banks, flooding streets.

Porto Alegre International Airport has suspended all flights indefinitely.

Governor of the state Eduardo Leite told reporters Friday evening that the death toll could rise.

More rains could hit the state’s northern regions on Saturday, according to Brazil’s National Institute of Meteorology. Authorities urged people living in high-risk areas to seek shelter elsewhere.

(Reporting by Andre Romani and Eduardo Simoes; Editing by Daniel Wallis)