Lula Visits Southern Brazil With Dozens Missing in Floods

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and key cabinet members arrived Sunday in the country’s south where record-breaking floods have shut-down a main airport and submerged neighborhoods, leaving dozens dead and many others missing.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Heavy rains over the state of Rio Grande do Sul caused main rivers to overflow, straining damps and displacing more than 88,000 people in more than 330 municipalities. At least 75 have died and 103 are missing, according to the latest official report. Several neighborhoods of Porto Alegre, the most populated city in the region, are under water while its international airport announced on Firday night it would close for an undetermined amount of time.

Companies that had announced they were suspending activities due to the heavy rains are now announcing they will resume their normal work on Monday.

Landing in Rio Grande do Sul for the second time this week, President Lula was to met with state Governor Eduardo Leite, according to social media posts. Leite is calling for federal aid to rebuild the infrastructure of his region, saying the effort needed compares to the billions of dollars spent by the US government after World War II.

President Lula toured the flooded areas and held a press conference surrounded by several members of his cabinet, including Finance Minister Fernando Haddad and Chief of Staff Rui Costa, along with leaders of congress and members of the country’s justice courts.

“This is a very important state in Brazil,” said Lula, who pledged federal aid to rebuild roads. Rio Grande do Sul is one of the key states for agriculture, a main driver for the country’s better than expected economic performance last year. “It’s time for Brazil to give back and help Rio Grande do Sul,” he said.

This is the fourth wave of extreme weather Rio Grande do Sul has faced in less than a year. Experts say the floods are the worst in 80 years, surpassing those of 1941, when rains continued for more than 30 straight days. Some municipalities are facing heavier rains than last September, when 54 died people and damage spread across 40 cities along the Taquari River.

(Updates with details from presser starting in fifth graph)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.