Brazilian horse ‘Caramelo’ rescued after being trapped on roof by floods

Rescue brings rare good news to southern Brazil, devastated by worst flooding in 80 years that has killed more than 100.

Video Duration 00 minutes 30 seconds 00:30Published On 10 May 202410 May 2024

The rescue of a horse stranded on a rooftop in southern Brazil has given hope to a nation beleaguered by massive floods that have killed more than 100 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.

“Caramelo”, as he was nicknamed on social media, was rescued on Thursday by firefighters after being stuck on a roof in Canoas, a city in the Porto Alegre metropolitan area, in southern Rio Grande do Sul state hardest hit by recent torrential rains.

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The brown horse, weighing 349kg (770 pounds) had been balancing precariously on two narrow strips of slippery asbestos. The rescue, broadcast live on television, saw the team sedate the animal before laying him on an inflatable raft.

“We found the animal in a debilitated state,” said Captain Tiago Franco, a firefighter from Sao Paulo deployed to lead the operation, in a statement from the state’s security secretariat. “We tried to approach in a calm way.”

Social media influencer Felipe Neto sent out updates to his almost 17 million followers on X as the rescue was under way. He subsequently offered to adopt him. “Caramelo, Brazil loves you!!! My God, what happiness,” he wrote.

Caramelo, thought to be seven years old, is recovering at a veterinary hospital affiliated with a university. Mariangela Allgayer, a veterinarian and professor at the institution, said on social media that he arrived very dehydrated.

Bruno Schmitz, one of the veterinarians who helped rescue and evaluate Caramelo, told television network GloboNews that the horse’s general nature greatly helped with the administration of sedatives.

“It was a very difficult operation, well beyond the standards even for specialised teams. I think they had never been through something like this before, but thank God everything went well,” he said.

Rio Grande do Sul agencies have rescued about 10,000 animals since last week, while those in municipalities and volunteers have saved thousands more, according to the state’s housing secretariat.

There is no official tally for the number of animals that have been killed or are missing, but local media have estimated the number is in the thousands.

More storms forecast

The authorities were racing round the clock on Thursday to deliver aid to flood-stricken communities in the south of the country before the arrival of new storms forecast to batter the region once again. Some 400 municipalities have been affected.

Many in the region have no access to drinking water or electricity, or even the means to call for help, with telephone and internet services down.

Rescuers in boats and on jet skis were on Thursday travelling on streets turned into rivers, looking for people trapped in their homes or those reluctant to leave for fear of looting.

The state’s Guaiba river, which runs through Porto Alegre, reached historic levels this week, and officials have warned five dams were at risk of rupturing.

“The focus is still on rescues … but we are working very hard on delivering humanitarian aid,” Sabrina Ribas, a spokeswoman for the civil defence force that handles disaster relief, told journalists.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies