Floods in southern Brazil kill 12, uproot 3,600

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SAO PAULO, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Floods have killed 12 people in Brazil's southernmost state Rio Grande do Sul and forced some 3,600 people from their homes, a state emergency coordinator said on Sunday.

Four municipalities in the state bordering Uruguay declared a state of emergency after torrential rains that started from the middle of last week forced residents to flee their homes and left many without electricity and water.

"There is still one person missing, the driver of a bus," said Captain Daniel Silva da Silva, coordinator for government emergency teams in the south of the state, adding the small bus was swept off the road by the flood waters and found empty.

Da Silva said teams were plucking people from their homes until Saturday night but some were already returning as the waters had begun to recede. He said most material damage was to residential areas and infrastructure, and not businesses.

He said around 1,000 people were sleeping in public shelters such as schools and another 2,600 had been taken in by friends and family. Around 76,000 have been affected, including those left without power and water.

Local media reported a one-year-old baby drowned after falling from a boat rescuing those stranded in the town of Capao do Leao. Two more people drowned in the same town when the bridge they were driving across gave way beneath them.

A locomotive driver traveling between two of the affected towns was swept away by currents after the engine derailed.

Emergency workers were delivering blankets and mattresses to the needy, including goods donated by the public late last year when floods in neighboring Santa Catarina state claimed 135 lives and wrecked the country's main port for meat exports.

National and state emergency coordinators visited the affected areas by helicopter at the weekend. The weather, typically wet during the Latin American country's current summer season, is due to stay drier in the next few days.

Brazilian broadcaster O Globo showed a photograph of one man in the municipality of Pelotas standing arms crossed in front of his house in water above his waist with some of his wooden furniture and household objects floating around him.

(Reporting by Peter Murphy; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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