Brazil Floods

Thousand people missing in north-east Brazil floods

Floods have engulfed two states in north-east Brazil, leaving about 1,000 people missing and forcing at least 100,000 to flee their homes.

At least 38 people are known to have died so far in Alagoas and Pernambuco.

Correspondents say the floods, brought on by nearly a week of rain, have washed away entire villages.

The governor of Alagoas, Teotonio Vilela Filho, said bodies were being washed up on beaches and riverbanks.

"Up until the early afternoon [Monday] we had 26 confirmed dead in Alagoas and more than 1,000 people missing," he said.

"We are praying for the missing to be found alive," he added, before holding talks with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Monday.

Twelve deaths were confirmed in the state of Pernambuco.

More than 58,000 people were forced to leave their homes in Alagoas and more than 42,000 in Pernambuco, Brazil's civil defence agency was quoted as saying by Spain's Efe news agency.

AFP news agency quoted unspecified officials as saying the total number of people displaced was 100,000.

Everything lost

The River Mundau burst its banks in the Alagoas town of Uniao dos Palmares, leaving at least 500 people unaccounted for, civil defence officials told AFP.

Aerial footage showed floodwater washing through the town.

The town of Quebrangulo in Alagoas was reportedly 80% submerged, forcing thousands of residents to flee to higher ground.

In Vitoria de Santo Antao, Pernambuco, a bridge was brought down.

A local woman, named only as Severina, told the Associated Press news agency as she stood with her son that she had lost all her possessions.

"There is nothing left, nothing, nothing, nothing," she said.

An unnamed man in the Pernambuco town of Cortes was shovelling mud out of his home on Monday.

"We are here on our feet, praying to God that we will be able to rebuild again and that everything will work out," he said.

More than 1,000 miles of roads were washed away by the rains, hindering the delivery of aid to affected areas.

Rescue teams brought people out of the worst-affected areas by helicopter.

The army and navy are helping with the rescue efforts.

In 2009, flooding killed at least 44 people and displaced hundreds of thousands in the same region.

(Published by BBC News – June 22, 2010)

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