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Brazil. Floods in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The 59-year-old couldn't swim, but he saved over 300 people. More deaths

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The death toll from historic floods in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul is increasing. 126 people are dead and over 400,000 had to leave their homes. The rescue operation is hampered by extensive flooding and subsequent rainfall. Ordinary citizens get involved in helping residents. One of them is 59-year-old Ivan Brizola, who saved over 300 people by kayak, even though he did not know how to swim.

126 people have died in floods in Rio Grande do Sul. The disaster affected almost two million people in total, and over 410,000 had to leave their homes. On Friday, over 71,000 of these people were left homeless, and 141 were still considered missing, SBT television reported, citing the latest civil defense announcement.

Meanwhile, rescue efforts are hampered by heavy rains that have been hitting Rio Grande do Sul since last week. On Wednesday, due to further downpours, the authorities had to suspend search operations.

It doesn't stop pouring

Downpours sent several rivers and lakes in the region to their highest levels on record, and flooding blocked streets, causing shortages of basic necessities in some areas.

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Most cities in Rio Grande do Sul state were expected to experience rainfall on Friday, according to the MetSul weather service. It existed too risk of storms. They are expected to last until Monday, the statement added.

Floods in BrazilIsaac Fontana/PAP/EPA

A 59-year-old saves people without knowing how to swim

Even though he could not swim, 59-year-old Ivan Brizola from Porto Alegre in southern Brazil rented a kayak and helped rescue over 300 people from flooded areas in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. His story is covered by the Spanish section of BBC News. The portal reports on the actions of a man who borrowed a kayak from the owner of a fish stand at the local market and went to the city of Canoas, which was particularly affected by floods, to save those trapped by the water. The man was not hindered by the fact that he could not swim and had not even had the opportunity to use a kayak before. He learned this in flood conditions – describes the BBC.

– I was a bit surprised by what I was able to do in the kayak – said the 59-year-old, assuring that he is in excellent physical condition because he has been training kung fu all his life. Brizola and other volunteers helped transport people from hard-to-reach places to larger boats. According to his son, who also participated in the effort, they helped save over 300 people and many animals in the last week.

PAP, BBC News Mundo, Reuters

Main photo source: Isaac Fontana/PAP/EPA

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