Scores killed by torrential rains in southern Brazil

The death toll from floods and mudslides triggered by torrential storms in southern Brazil has climbed to 58 people, with the major city of Porto Alegre particularly hard-hit, the country's civil defense agency said Saturday.

The deaths included two people who died in an explosion at a flooded gas station in Porto Alegre where rescue crews were attempting to refuel, said an AFP journalist who witnessed the blast.

Overall, raging floodwaters have left 74 people injured and another 67 missing, the civil defense agency said.

Fast-rising water levels in the state of Rio Grande do Sul were straining dams and particularly threatening economically important Porto Alegre, a city of 1.4 million.

The Guaiba River, which flows through the city, is at a historic high -- at 5.04 meters (16.5 feet), well above the 4.76 meters that had stood as a record since the devastating floods of 1941.

Authorities were scrambling to evacuate swamped neighborhoods. "Despite the unfavorable weather, rescue actions are taking place day and night," a government statement said.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva posted a video of a helicopter depositing a soldier atop a house, where he used a brick to pound a hole in the roof and rescue a baby wrapped in a blanket.

"I lost everything," he told AFP.

'Going to be much worse'

Residential areas found themselves underwater as far as the eye can see, with roads destroyed and bridges swept away by powerful currents.


Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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