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Cyclone leaves 13 dead in Brazil

A total of 3,713 people were left with damaged houses, and 697 were evacuated from areas at risk from the cyclone.

AFP
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People affected by an extratropical cyclone rest in a gymnasium used as a shelter for flood victims in Sao Leopoldo, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, June 18. Photo: Reuters
People affected by an extratropical cyclone rest in a gymnasium used as a shelter for flood victims in Sao Leopoldo, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, June 18. Photo: Reuters

A cyclone tore through southern Brazil killing at least 13 people and forcing thousands from their homes, authorities said Sunday.

Authorities lowered the number of people declared missing amid the violent weather in Rio Grande do Sul state Thursday and Friday from 10 to four.

Torrential rain and strong wind caused damage in dozens of towns in that state, including its capital Porto Alegre, in the latest in a string of climate disasters in the South American country.

The death toll rose to 13 with the discovery of two more bodies in the town of Caraa, one of the hardest hit, the state civil defense agency said.

A four-month-old baby is among the fatalities, local media said. They broadcast footage of a car being swept into a cemetery by powerful winds.

"The water came up to our waist inside the house. Thank God, the firemen arrived quickly and got us out on boats. It seemed like a nightmare," a woman in the town of Sao Leopoldo told the newspaper Estadao, which did not give her name.

Other people were evacuated by helicopter.

A total of 3,713 people were left with damaged houses, and 697 were evacuated from areas at risk from the cyclone.

Rio Grande do Sul Governor Eduardo Leite visited the worst-affected areas by helicopter on Saturday together with government and rescue officials.

In Caraa, the governor visited a community centre used to shelter hundreds of people whose homes were damaged by the storm.

"The situation in Caraa worries us deeply. It is essential that we can, in an integrated manner, quickly map the main affected areas and identify the people who need support," the governor said in the statement.

Leite said state firefighters had rescued about 2,400 people in the past two days.

"Our main objective at this moment is to protect and save human lives. Rescue people who are isolated, locate the missing and support families," Leite said.

Brazil has been hit by a series of deadly weather disasters in recent years, which experts say are being made worse by climate change.

At least 65 people died in February when torrential rain triggered floods and landslides in the southeastern state of Sao Paulo.

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