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Boat crashes into bridge and capsizes as death toll rises amid catastrophic flooding in southern Brazil

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — The death toll in southern Brazil rose to 56 on Saturday, with dozens still missing, as historic floods continue to devastate the entire region.

Brazilian authorities say another 74 have been injured and 67 are still missing. In total, the floods are affecting more than 420,000 people in Rio Grande do Sul state, including more than 32,000 homeless and hundreds of thousands without power, according to the latest update from civil authorities on Saturday afternoon.

Heavy, torrential rains have lashed the Rio Grande do Sul region all week. The town of Bento Goncalves recorded just over 65 centimeters of rain during the storm, while several other gauges in the area reported more than 50 centimeters of rain.

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Santa Maria had 8.4 centimeters in one day, making it the wettest day ever recorded. That city received 18.5 centimeters in three days – equivalent to about three months of typical rain, according to Brazil’s National Institute of Meteorology.

Several cities have been hit by flooding, more than 2,300 schools have been closed and parts of 68 highways have been closed or blocked, with many roads and bridges simply destroyed. The storm also caused landslides and the partial collapse of a dam at a small hydroelectric power plant, according to Reuters.

Precipitation estimates in southern Brazil between April 23 and May 1.

Precipitation estimates in southern Brazil between April 23 and May 1.

Along the swollen Taquari River, a large boat was being carried through the raging waters when it rammed into a submerged bridge and capsized, according to Storyful. There is no word if anyone was on board.

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In the capital Porto Alegre, where more than 10 inches of rain fell, the Guaiba River was more than six feet above flood stage on Saturday morning, causing widespread flooding. Photos from the area show downtown streets covered in deep water.

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A man walks through a flooded street in the historic center of Porto Alegre, Rio da Grande do state, Brazil, on May 4, 2024. (Photo by Anselmo Cunha / AFP)

City officials say three water treatment plants have failed due to flooding, and officials are urging residents to conserve water. The city’s airport has suspended all flights “due to the large amount of rain”.

Meteorologists from Brazil’s NIM say El Niño is partly responsible for the wet weather pattern, as warming Pacific Ocean waters help block cold fronts and concentrate areas of instability over the Rio Grande do Sul area.

Original article source: Watch: Boat crashes into bridge, capsizes as death toll rises amid catastrophic flooding in southern Brazil