Brazil mounts frantic rescue effort as flooding kills more than 60, displaces 80,000

Authorities in southern Brazil raced against the clock Sunday to rescue people from raging floods and mudslides that have killed at least 66 and forced more than 80,000 to flee their homes.

All over the city of Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul state, people stood on rooftops hoping to be rescued as others in canoes or small boats navigated streets that have turned into rivers.

Civil defense officials said at least 101 people were missing in the latest of a string of catastrophic weather events in the South American giant.

Viewed from the air, Porto Alegre was completely flooded, with streets under water and the roofs of some houses barely visible.

The Guaiba River, which flows through the city of 1.4 million people, reached a record high level of 5.3 meters (17.4 feet), according to the local municipality, well above the historic peak of 4.76 meters that had stood as a record since devastating 1941 floods.

The water was still advancing into economically important Porto Alegre and hundreds of other localities, with increasingly dramatic consequences.

Rain was intermittent Sunday morning but expected to continue for another day or so, as the flood waters kept rising.

In addition to the tens of thousands forced from their homes, Brazil's civil defense agency said more than a million people lacked access to drinking water and it described the damage as incalculable. Some 15,000 people are now living in shelters.

"During the night on Thursday the waters began to rise very quickly," she told AFP via a WhatsApp message.

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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