At least 59 dead, 130,000 homeless in Brazil storms

from Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published on 03 Aug 2000
Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - The death toll from storms and landslides that have battered northeastern Brazil for five days rose to 59 Thursday, with 130,000 left homeless in the Pernambuco and Alagoas provinces, said Globonews TV, quoting rescue agencies.

President Fernando Enrique Cardoso described the situation in the flood-ravaged areas as ''extreme'' following a helicopter flight over the region.

He said military ships and aircraft would begin Thursday to transport food and medication to the affected people in an urgent rescue campaign.

The landslides caused states of emergency to be declared in 35 cities and districts. Twenty areas were cut off completely from the outside world, Globonews said.

The area hit hardest was Pernambuco's capital of Recife, a city of 1.5 million residents where at least 17 people died in landslides Monday evening and Tuesday morning. Rainfall continued in Recife Thursday, though somewhat abated from the deluge strength it had maintained since Sunday.

Recife's landslides were concentrated in slum areas in the city's northern hills, where rain-softened earth and masses of stones and dirt slid down over dozens of wood and tin homes.

About 100 districts north of Recife with tens of thousands of residents were declared areas of ''highest danger''.

Helicopters rescued dozens of people from roofs and trees in Maceio and other cities in Alagoas. Rivers overflowed their banks throughout the provinces, with rising waters destroying dozens of bridges and ripping down power poles.

The continuing rain unleashed chaos in Recife, where whole areas of the city including thoroughfares and side streets were completely underwater. Many shops, schools, hospitals and other public buildings had been shut down Monday and remained closed Thursday.

Financial damages in Alagoas alone were estimated to be at least 50 million reals (about 30 million dollars).

Meteorologists pronounced the weather ''the worst storms in the past 40 years in the northeast'', a region normally plagued by drought.

dpa mr fz

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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 08/03/2000 14:29:56

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