Authorities of the southern Brazil state of Rio Grande do Sul said Saturday that eight people died and 19 others were missing after a winter storm swept through the region.
Gov. Eduardo Leite said that one of those killed was a 4-month-old baby, who died before rescuers were able to get there. Fatalities were registered in seven cities.
“This first moment, since Thursday night until now, is especially to protect human lives, support and rescue people,” Leite said at a news conference on Saturday with other authorities.
Two ministers from President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s government traveled to the state to show support and arrange investments for Rio Grande do Sul and cities facing a critical situation. They will also go to neighboring Santa Catarina state, which was also hit by the floods.
Firefighters performed 2,400 rescues across the 35 cities at Rio Grande do Sul hit by the tropical storm.
Several roads were still blocked in Rio Grande do Sul, flights to the state’s main cities were canceled throughout Friday and electricity was out across state.
According to Leite, state agents are inspecting the damaged roads and bridges to see if any access can be reestablished to the most affected areas.
Mayors of cities that were affected said twice as much rain fell in 24 hours than would normally be expected for the entire month of June.
The mayor of Maquine said on his social media channels that precipitation in his city surpassed about 11 inches in one day.
Experts said the storm was an extratropical cyclone, a type of weather system that most often occurs in middle and high latitudes rather than in the tropics.