84 dead in flooding in southern Brazil

Other News Materials 26 November 2008 12:13 (UTC +04:00)

At least 84 people have died in flooding and landslides in a southern Brazilian state since the weekend in one of the worst weather-related catastrophes to hit the South American country in decades, authorities said.

The death toll in Santa Catarina state could rise substantially because a large number of people were missing, a civil defence spokesman said Tuesday, reported dpa.

A total of 1.5 million people were affected by the flooding and landslides caused by heavy rains, and more than 54,000 people were forced to flee their homes, media reports said.

Four cities have been declared disaster zones and eight municipalities had been cut off from the outside world as floodwaters inundated roads, state authorities said.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva planned Wednesday to announce a 700-million-real (303 million dollars) relief fund for the affected areas, the state-run news agency Agencia Brasil reported.

Especially hard-hit was the city of Blumenau, where 20 people were reported dead. Mayor Joao Paulo Kleinuebing said Tuesday that nearly half the city was without electricity and that food, drinking water and mattresses were needed in the city.

According to state authorities, many towns were experiencing looting of homes and grocery stores while in other places, like Blumenau, the price of food had doubled.

Meteorologists have forecast more rain in the next several days.