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Rescuers in Brazil’s mountainous southeast worked against the clock to aid isolated individuals after storms and heavy rains resulted in at least 25 deaths in Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo. The situation in both states was described as chaotic due to severe flooding caused by a weekend deluge. The death toll in Espirito Santo rose to 17, with the most impacted municipality being Mimoso do Sul, where 15 people lost their lives. The falling water levels allowed rescuers to reach previously inaccessible areas, although the challenges remained significant.

Governor Renato Casagrande described the situation in Espirito Santo as chaotic, with efforts ongoing to evacuate affected residents and provide assistance. At least 5,200 people had been evacuated from their homes, with the town of Mimoso do Sul bearing the brunt of the damage. In the neighboring state of Rio de Janeiro, eight individuals lost their lives as a result of the storms, with four casualties in Petropolis due to a collapsing house. The extreme weather events were part of a trend of environmental tragedies exacerbated by climate change, according to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

President Lula expressed his sympathies for the victims of the storms and reiterated the government’s commitment to working with state and local authorities to protect, prevent, and repair flood damage. The National Institute of Meteorology had warned of severe storms, particularly in Rio, with rainfall levels exceeding normal levels for March. The area usually receives 140mm of rain in the entire month, yet the storm brought 200mm of rainfall in just three days. Rio authorities had taken measures to prepare for the storm, including declaring an administrative holiday and urging residents to stay home.

The extreme weather events in Brazil came following a record heatwave, which saw soaring temperatures and humidity levels. The impact of climate change on such events was highlighted by President Lula, who noted the thousands left homeless by the storms. The government’s efforts to provide aid and support to affected areas were underscored, as the focus shifted to rescue and recovery operations in the aftermath of the devastating floods. As communities in Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo grappled with the aftermath of the storms, the importance of preparedness and resilience in the face of increasing weather-related disasters was evident.

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