Watch: Soldier in Brazil hammers through roof to save baby from flood

The latest in a string of flood tragedies over the past year has left at least 75 dead and families fleeing for roofs as flood waters fill homes.

LAJEADO, Brazil – Deadly flooding filling up homes in southern Brazil chased families to the roofs and attics to wait and hope for rescue. Roofs are now the only islands in a muddy sea.

In the video above, an Army soldier is seen using a brick to hammer through the roof of a house to make the hole big enough to pull a baby to safety. He does this while suspended by a wire from a helicopter.

Another video shows dry-suit-clad rescuers gently placing a 4-month-old with pneumonia into a chopper, followed by his mother, to head to a hospital for treatment. Next, the helicopter hovers over the roof of a home, turned into an island, to pull two more babies to safety.


Video after video from Army Aviation Command shows desperate residents waving down helicopters from on top of roofs with muddy water past the eaves. Drivers can be seen clinging to their dogs and hoods of cars, suffering from hypothermia and awaiting rescue.

Search and rescue crews have packed aircraft to capacity with children, moms, dads, seniors and dogs. One chopper held 30 survivors.

Deadly flooding

Two-thirds of the Rio Grande do Sur state is currently inundated, according to Civil Defense. That impacts nearly 800,000 people across the countryside, towns and cities. Many still in their homes have no water or electricity.

As of midday Sunday, flooding killed 78 people and injured 291 more, while 111 are still missing. So far, more than 129,279 people have been evacuated, but shelters only hold 20,000 of them.


Heavy, torrential rains have plagued the Rio Grande do Sul region for an entire week. The town of Bento Goncalves recorded more than 21 inches of rain in the storm, while several other gauges in the area reported over 19 inches of rain. The National Institute of Meteorology expects another 4 inches to fall on Sunday.

The Guaiba River in Puerto Alegre, the state capital, is 7 feet past flood stage at this point, the highest on record. The main airport remains closed. A hydroelectric dam burst Saturday, sending a 6-foot wave downstream and into communities.

Fourth major flood in 12 months

The state is still recovering from several deadly floods in the past year. An extratropical cyclone wreaked havoc in September 2023.

A week of severe thunderstorms flooded southern Brazil in November 2023. Several municipalities declared a State of Emergency in July 2023 after storms dropped flooding rain. The BBC reported that the three previous tragedies together took 75 lives. 

In a press conference, the governor of Rio Grande do Sur said the current flooding was the worst disaster in the state's history.