Brazilian authorities said Friday that at least 46 people were missing after a devastating cyclone hit the southeastern State of Rio Grande do Sul since early Monday, where already 41 casualties have been reported. The federal government also pledged R$ 800 (US$167) for each of the over 3,000 people who have lost their homes to the storm.
Vice-President Geraldo Alckmin, acting as chief executive while Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is in New Delhi for the G20 Summit, is to visit the affected areas Sunday, it was also announced. We're going to release R$800 per person so that local governments can provide assistance to those who have lost their homes, said Alckmin.
Alckmin announced at a press conference in Brasilia that the federal government will send 20,000 food baskets and medicine kits for 15,000 people in Rio Grande do Sul, whose authorities declared a state of calamity.
We are acting on all fronts, Lula wrote on X (formerly Twitter). The Brazilian Navy said it was helping to rescue people who were stranded on the roofs of houses and buildings. Vessels are also transporting support material and supplies for the victims.
This week's extratropical cyclone was the latest in a series of weather disasters in recent months in Brazil, and the deadliest in Rio Grande do Sul. In Muçum, the hardest hit locality with at least 15 dead, some 30 people were still missing, according to local media. Nearly 1,000 rescuers and a dozen helicopters have been deployed. Relief efforts were delivered a severe blow after two bridges were destroyed and more than a dozen roads were still partially or totally blocked. The armed forces deployed eight aircraft, in addition to machinery and half a thousand troops to help in the work, Alckmin said.
Rio Grande do Sul Governor Eduardo Leite has estimated that about R$ 100 million reais (about US$ 20 million) would be needed to recover the road infrastructure. We are going to guarantee the reconstruction of these cities, of this infrastructure, and of the lives of these people, he said.
On Sunday, we're going to meet with the state government, meet with the mayors, visit the affected regions to further organize this necessary support that the federal government is making available to the state government and the municipalities, especially to the communities that have been hardest hit, said Minister of the President's Secretariat for Communication Paulo Pimenta.
Of the 41 deaths, 15 were recorded in the town of Muçum. The other deaths occurred in Roca Sales (10), Cruzeiro do Sul (4), Lajeado (3), Ibiraiaras (2), Estrela (2) and Encantado, Imigrante, Mato Castelhano, Passo Fundo and Santa Tereza (1 each).