Latin America & Caribbean

Floods in north-east Brazil kill dozens of people

Floods have engulfed two states in north-east Brazil, killing at least 42 people and forcing at least 100,000 to flee their homes.

Another 1,000 people are missing, prompting fears that the death toll in Alagoas and Pernambuco might rise.

The floods, brought on by nearly a week of rain, are thought to have destroyed entire villages.

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

At least 29 people were confirmed dead in Alagoas and more than 1,000 people are missing.

"Unfortunately, some towns have been nearly 100% destroyed, basically wiped off the map," Sandro Cavalcante, a spokesman for the Alagoas state Civil Defense agency, told the Reuters news agency.

At least 13 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.

The federal government said it would allocate R$100m ($56m) to the relief effort.

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 said.

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.

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BBC News website user Katya Christina said her district of Maceio, in Alagoas, has not been affected by the water but the lower part of the city was flooded.

She said she had heard that people in the countryside were getting no government assistance: "My friend lives in the town of Sao Jose Da Lage, which has been devastated.

"He says the government is doing nothing to help. The locals are having to help each other. We are trying to get food and blankets sent out to help people. Anything we can do to help.

"If I could I would even go there myself - but it's too dangerous because of landslides."

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.

Roads swept away

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.

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