RIO DE JANEIRO – The polar blast affecting much of South America’s Southern Cone has claimed its first mortal victims in Brazil, authorities said Wednesday.
A 45-year-old homeless man was found dead late Tuesday in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, where the temperature climbed only to 10 C (50 F) – the coldest daily maximum in four years – before falling to 8.3 C (47 F) after sunset.
Sao Paulo’s lowest temperature ever is 7.3 C (45 F), recorded on July 12, 1988.
The other fatality reported Wednesday was also a homeless man, a resident of Curitiba, capital of the southern state of Parana, who died amid overnight temperatures of minus 1.3 C (30 F).
The Sao Paulo municipal government said that despite an increase in the number of beds at homeless shelters to 11,800, the facilities were unable to accommodate everyone seeking to come in from the cold.
Around 20,000 people, including families with children, are sleeping on the streets of Sao Paulo, according to the Rev. Julio Lancelotti, coordinator of homeless outreach for Brazil’s Catholic bishops conference.
A number of towns in southern Brazil experienced record low temperatures on Wednesday and some areas had snow and frost.
Bom Jardim da Serra, a town in the mountains of Santa Catarina state, posted an overnight low of minus 8.8. C (16 F).
The weather forecast calls for the unusually temperatures to hang on for one more day.