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Number Missing in Brazil Floods Drops Sharply; at Least 50 Dead

July 1st, 2010

Alagoas one of the areas hardest hit by the flooding

At least 50 people have died and 56 are still missing following the torrential rains and floods that have affected several parts of northeastern Brazil, the nation’s poorest region, officials said.

According to the latest figures provided by emergency-management officials, the discovery of four more bodies in the state of Alagoas, one of the areas hardest hit by the flooding, brought the number of fatalities to 33.

According to that account, the number of people missing in the state, originally reported as 607, has been reduced sharply and now stands at 56.

The decrease came about because numerous residents of rural communities located in hard-to-reach areas have been found, while people who had taken refuge in remote areas to protect themselves from the rains have gradually returned home.

Many of the state’s towns were submerged as the Mundau and Paraiba surged to as much as 12 meters (39 feet) above normal levels. The receding floodwaters in some communities have left behind tons of garbage and debris.

The Brazilian government promised Thursday to extend “without limits” aid to the northeastern part of the country, devastated by the rains.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva made the “political, human and moral” commitment to help the people living in the region, one of Brazil’s poorest, at a press conference in Recife, capital of Pernambuco, after visiting the areas suffering the most damage.

Authorities are also using cadaver dogs to search for bodies, including some animals that did similar duty in Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake.

With many schools covered in mud and others pressed into service as shelters, the Alagoas education department moved up the break scheduled for July.

Last April, more than 200 people lost their lives in heavy flooding in the state of Rio de Janeiro.


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