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Brazil's Southern region grapples with deadly rains, mudslides; 37 killed

Rio Grande do Sul: In what authorities are describing as the worst disaster in its history, Brazil's southern state of Rio Grande do Sul is reeling from the devastating effects of heavy rains and mudslides. The death toll has surged to 37, with 74 individuals reported missing, according to the state's civil defence agency, Al Jazeera reported.
Rescue operations are underway as emergency responders race against time to locate survivors trapped amidst the debris of collapsed homes, bridges, and roads. Governor Eduardo Leite declared a state of emergency as the region grapples with the aftermath of the catastrophic weather event.
"We are dealing with the worst disaster in [our] history," Governor Leite lamented, acknowledging the grim reality that the death toll is expected to rise further as rescue efforts continue, as reported by Al Jazeera.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pledged full support to the affected region, assuring that "there will be no lack of human or material resources" to alleviate the suffering caused by the extreme weather conditions.
Federal assistance has already been mobilised, with 12 aircraft, 45 vehicles, and 12 boats deployed alongside 626 soldiers to aid in rescue and relief operations. The focus is on clearing roads, distributing essential supplies such as food, water, and mattresses, and establishing shelters for displaced individuals.
Forecasters have issued warnings of further peril, as the state's main Guaiba river is anticipated to reach alarming levels, exacerbating the existing crisis. Entire communities have been cut off, with infrastructure severely compromised by the relentless downpour.
The dire situation has prompted authorities to urge residents to evacuate from high-risk areas near rivers and hillsides susceptible to mudslides. Access to basic amenities such as drinking water has been disrupted, leaving hundreds of thousands without essential services.
The catastrophic floods and mudslides are part of a pattern of extreme weather events plaguing South America's largest country. Experts attribute the heightened frequency of such disasters to the impacts of climate change, which have been exacerbated by a recent cold front sweeping across the south and southeast regions following a period of intense heat, Al Jazeera reported.

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