By Contributing Reporter, Clara Cavour
RIO DE JANEIRO – A violent storm, described as a tornado, left four dead, 172 injured and at least 1,480 homeless in the state of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil, last Tuesday. The storm also caused destruction in São Paulo and areas bordering Argentina, authorities said.
The bad weather hit Santa Catarina on Monday, as a tornado with estimated winds reaching two hundred kilometers per hour struck the western part of the state according to Santa Catarina Civil Defense Secretary Marcio Luiz Alves.
Flooding and landslides have been widspread across the state, especially in the southern region. According to Alves, more than 1.5 million people have been affected by the severe weather, with as many as 1.1 million experiencing power cuts for a day earlier in the week. At least 1,906 people are currently staying in government shelters, while nearly 10,650 have sought safety in the homes of relatives and friends, he said.
The Civil Defense Department of Santa Catarina said that the storm caused, in addition to the injuries, material damage in at least thirty municipalities in the western part of the state. According to the head of the department, Emerson Emerim, the municipality of Guaraciaba, 703 kilometers west of Florianópolis, was the most affected by the storms. Guaraciaba Mayor Ademir Zimmerman told reporters that practically “nothing remained.” At least sixty-seven municipalities in Santa Catarina have declared states of emergency and Guaraciaba has been declared a state of “public calamity”.
Also in Santa Catarina, the municipalities of São Domingos and Coronel Martins experienced power cuts, while in other communities such as Campina da Alegria and Ipuacu both electric power and water services were unavailable, according to the Civil Defense report.
Strong winds and floods are common in the state especially during the summer months. Last November, a succession of storms caused widespread flooding and several mudslides in the southern state, killing 135 people and forcing approximately 90,000 to abandon their homes.
Another town affected by the storm was Itaara, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, where numerous vehicles and houses were damaged and several families had to be relocated to a local gymnasium.
On the same day, three people died in landslides caused by a heavy downpour that drenched the São Paulo suburb of Osasco, authorities said. The heavy rain caused traffic problems in the capital and cut off phone services in some neighbourhoods.
Rio de Janeiro was also hit by winds of over 90km per hour. No injuries were reported but several buildings were damaged.