A powerful extratropical cyclone has caused widespread devastation in southern Brazil, killing at least 21 people and displacing thousands more. The storm, which hit on Monday, brought torrential rain and gale-force winds that triggered floods and landslides in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Cyclone disaster in Brazil: 21 dead, thousands displaced, more rain to come.
The town of Mucum was among the hardest hit, with 85% of its territory flooded by the Taquari river. Hundreds of people had to be rescued from their rooftops, and 15 bodies were found as the water receded. The mayor of Mucum said the town no longer existed. Other victims included a man who died of an electrical shock in Passo Fundo and a couple whose car was swept away by a river in Ibiraiaras.
The cyclone affected 67 municipalities in Rio Grande do Sul, impacting more than 52,000 people. Close to 6,000 people were forced to leave their homes and seek shelter in public buildings or with relatives. More than 300 mm (11 inches) of rain fell on the state in less than 24 hours, breaking records and causing widespread damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and power supply
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva expressed his solidarity with the affected population and said the federal government was ready to help.