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The death toll from the floods in Brazil rises to 58

The death toll from floods and mudslides caused by violent storms in southern Brazil has risen to 58 people, with the major city of Porto Alegre particularly hard hit, the country’s civil defense said yesterday. The dead included two people who died in an explosion. at a flooded gas station in Porto Alegre where rescue crews were trying to refuel, said an AFP journalist who witnessed the blast. In total, the raging floods have left 74 people injured and another 67 missing, civil defense officials said. Rapidly rising water levels in the state of Rio Grande do Sul put pressure on dams and posed a particular threat to the economically important Porto Alegre, a city of 1.4 million inhabitants. The Guaiba River, which flows through the city, is at an all-time high: 5.04 meters. 16.5 feet), well above the 4.76 meters that had stood as a record since the devastating floods of 1941. Authorities attempted to evacuate the flooded neighborhoods. “Despite the unfavorable weather, rescue operations are taking place day and night,” a government statement said. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva posted a video of a helicopter dropping a soldier on top of a house, where he used a rock to smash a hole. onto the roof and rescue a baby wrapped in a blanket. In a northern suburb of Porto Alegre, 61-year-old Jose Augusto Moraes appeared shaken after rapidly rising waters flooded his home and he had to call firefighters to rescue a trapped child. “I lost everything,” he told AFP. To bridge an embankment along another local river, the Gravatai, Mayor Sebastiao Malo issued a stern warning on social media platform