29 killed in southern Brazil’s worst storms

Sao Paulo, May 3 (UNI) The worst storms killed 29 people and left 60 others missing after four consecutive days of intense rainfall, floods and mudslides hit Brazil’s southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, Governor Eduardo Leite said on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, we know that these numbers will rise,” said Leite, describing the storms as the worst natural disaster in the history of the state, a top agricultural and livestock producer.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Thursday visited Santa Maria, one of the state’s worst-hit cities, and met with Leite. Lula offered federal funding and aid to address the emergency in the state bordering Uruguay and Argentina.

“There will be no shortage of help from the federal government to take care of health, there will be no shortage of money to take care of transportation and food, everything that is within reach. Whether through ministers, civil society or our military, we will dedicate round-the-clock effort so that we can satisfy the basic needs of the people who are stranded by the rains,” said the president.

With more rains forecasted to come, the governor called on residents to head for higher ground and stay away from flood-prone areas identified by the civil defense agency.

Some 4,400 residents have been evacuated but thousands more are waiting to be rescued from their flooded homes, he said.

According to a civil defense bulletin, 154 cities have been affected by the natural disaster.

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