Brazil floods kill at least 39 people

June 22, 2010 12:00 am

, RIO DE JANEIRO, Jun 22 – Floods after days of driving rain have killed at least 39 people in northeastern Brazil, and left 1,000 unaccounted for and another 100,000 people homeless, authorities said Monday.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has called a crisis cabinet meeting for Tuesday and said the government would make federal funds available to help the homeless.

"Up until the early afternoon we had 26 confirmed dead in Alagoas (state) and more than 1,000 people missing," Alagoas Governor Teotonio Vilela Filho said, quoted on the official Agencia Brasil news agency.

"We are praying for the missing to be found alive. But we are very worried because bodies are starting to turn up on beaches and on riverbanks," Vilela told reporters at a press briefing before meeting with Lula.

Civil defense officials in devastated Alagoas state said the Mundau River burst its banks in the town of Uniao dos Palmares, leaving at least 500 people unaccounted for there.

"Pernambuco state\’s rivers all run out through Alagoas. Swollen as they were they devastated cities," a distraught Vilela explained. Thirteen people have been confirmed dead so far in Pernambuco, officials said.

The torrents swept away more than 40,000 houses, entire bridges and streets, as well as rail lines in 22 towns across Alagoas, Vilela said.

Firefighters told AFP there were entire towns on the banks of the Mundau in Alagoas that were "wiped off the map," while others were severly damaged or left cut off by floodwaters.

The air force so far has sent in five helicopters.

The president met Monday with local governors to work on details of the relief efforts.


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