Flood deaths in Brazil rise to 84

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, floods have left 84 people dead and another 54,000 homeless. Heavy rainfall in recent days caused landslides that have blocked roads and destroyed homes in the region. Eight towns have been cut off by flood waters, and some 160,000 people were left without electricity.

Map showing location of Santa Catarina within Brazil.

Emergency workers have been using boats and helicopters to try and reach those that have been stranded. Heavy rains have affected a large portion of southern Brazil, but Santa Catarina has seen the worst of the bad weather.

"Almost all the deaths were caused by landslides that left people buried in their own homes," said Luiz Henrique da Silveira, Santa Catarina's governor.

The death toll was the highest in the town of Ilhota, located along the banks of the Itajai River. 15 people died there when waters rose 9 meters (30 feet) above normal levels. The nearby city of Blumenau also took a hard blow, where 13 people died after being buried by mudslides. Rain is still falling in Blumenau as of today, and meteorologists say that it is unlikely to stop until Wednesday.

Seventeen highways were blocked by mudslides. According to officials, it could take several days to reopen several that were heaped high with earth and trees from hillsides as a result of them.

Shortages of cooking gas and fuel for cars were caused as the result of a pipeline rupture, which cut off natural gas from the state's sole source located in Bolivia. Gas was also cut off to the neighbouring state of Rio Grande do Sul, which borders both Argentina and Uruguay.

In total, about one and a half million people are said to have been affected by the flooding.


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