Brazil floods: 8,000 free homes for victims

Houses destroyed by floods in the village of Areal, Rio de Janeiro State The flooding is considered the worst natural disaster Brazil has ever suffered.

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Brazil says it is going to build 8,000 houses to give free to poor people made homeless by floods and landslides in Rio de Janeiro state this month.

President Dilma Rousseff said 6,000 homes would be paid for by the state and federal governments.

The other 2,000 would be donated by a consortium of construction companies.

Ms Rousseff said there would also be heavy investment in flood prevention measures. More than 830 people died in the floods and landslides.

They struck in a mountainous region north of Rio de Janeiro. Another 540 people are still missing.

'Insurmountable pain'

President Rousseff announced the building programme at a joint press conference with Rio de Janeiro state Governor Sergio Cabral.

She said the new houses would be given to families living in shelters after their homes were destroyed and to those who were being removed from areas considered at risk of further flooding and landslides.

"Their pain is insurmountable, and their loss has no price, but this initiative can improve the situation a little," Ms Rousseff said.

The new homes will be built on public land and the construction cost subsidised by the federal government and private companies, with the Rio state government then paying the monthly purchase instalments on behalf of poor families who move in.

Ms Rousseff said her government was also acting to prevent any repeat of the disaster, by mapping out areas that were prone to flooding and landslides and clamping down on unauthorised building in danger zones.

Federal money is also being made available to rebuild roads and bridges and fund drainage and hillside stabilisation projects.

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