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Brazil floods kill dozens, uproot thousands

Video by Luke BROWN

Text by REUTERS

Latest update : 2008-11-25

Rescue workers rushed to help stricken residents in southern Brazil on Monday after landslides and floods caused by heavy rain killed at least 59 people and forced more than 43,000 from their homes.

 

RIO DE JANEIRO - Rescue workers rushed to
help stricken residents in southern Brazil on Monday after
landslides and floods caused by heavy rain killed at least 59
people and forced more than 43,000 from their homes.

The state of Santa Catarina declared an emergency as
rescuers used helicopters and motorboats to reach those
displaced or stranded by the floods after days of torrential
rain.

"Santa Catarina is facing its worst weather tragedy," state
Gov. Luis Henrique Silveira told reporters.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called
Silveira and told him the federal government stood ready to
provide medicine and other supplies, the state said on its Web
site.

The state government said the floods and mudslides had
affected 1.5 million people, leaving about 150,000 people
without electricity and eight towns out of the 60 affected
completely cut off by flood waters and landslides.

The death toll was likely to rise as several people were
missing, state officials said.

The floods also shut down a branch of a pipeline carrying
natural gas from Bolivia to Brazil, cutting off supplies to
Santa Catarina and neighboring Rio Grande do Sul state, the
company that operates the line said.

Brazilian newspapers showed photographs of streets
submerged by the waist-high flood waters in the state, which is
one of Brazil's wealthiest and known for its large number of
descendants of German and Italian immigrants.

Transport in the state was paralyzed as roads were cut off
by the flooding and landslides. Television footage showed
hillsides breaking away and sliding into rivers of mud. A lane
of one main road collapsed after its earth foundations
crumbled.

Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper said at least one town was
rationing water because of purification problems.

Thirteen people died after being buried by landslides in
the town of Blumenau, where officials declared a state of
emergency late on Sunday and warned that more mudslides were
possible. Eight died in Gaspar town and six more died in the
town of Jaragua do Sul.

"The big challenge on Monday will be supplying the shelters
with medicines and food," Blumenau Mayor Joao Paulo Kleinubing
said, according to the Civil Defense Agency's Web site.

The first deaths were reported on Saturday after two days
of heavy downpours and weeks of steady rain. Forecasters said
the rain was expected to ease in the coming days.

The South American country is in spring season when rains
in the southern part of the country are at their heaviest,
ending months of usually dry winter weather.

 

 

 

 

Date created : 2008-11-25

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