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Brazil leader overflies flood-hit region
by Staff Writers
Brasilia (AFP) Dec 24, 2013


Death toll in Brazil's flood-hit state rises to 17
Sao Paulo (AFP) Dec 25, 2013 - The death toll from two weeks of torrential rain in Brazil's southeastern state of Espirito Santo has risen from 14 to 17, officials said Wednesday.

A civil defense spokesman told AFP that the bodies of three more victims - two men and a woman -- were found early Wednesday.

He added that the number of people left homeless by the extensive flooding totaled around 50,000.

On Tuesday, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff toured flood-hit areas of the state and pledged federal aid to rebuild homes and roads.

Nearly 20,000 kilometers (12,500 miles) of roads were reported destroyed or damaged.

Authorities said 47 cities in Espirito Santo, which borders Rio de Janeiro state, were affected by the flooding, including many left without communications, drinkable water and power.

State governor Renato Casagrande, who on Saturday declared a state of alert in the area, described the rains as the worst in the past 90 years.

In the neighboring state of Minas Gerais, where heavy rains have sparked landslides, 17 fatalities have now been reported since October 15.

In early December, a storm left 16 people dead and flattened more than 200 houses in the city of Lajedinho in the northeastern state of Bahia.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday flew over the flood-hit southeastern state of Espirito Santo, where at least 14 people have died in days of torrential rain.

A Civil Defense statement raised the death toll from 12 to 14 and said nearly 50,000 people were forced to leave their homes, up from the 46,000 reported earlier.

It said 47 cities in Espirito Santo, which borders Rio de Janeiro state, were affected by the flooding, including many left without communications, drinkable water and power.

Rousseff said two helicopters and army trucks would be sent to the area to deliver food and medicine to those affected.

"The tragedy in Espirito Santo destroyed homes, roads and dreams. We are going to try to rebuild them," the president said after her aerial tour.

Espirito Santo Governor Renato Casagrande, who Saturday declared a state of alert in the area, said the rains were the worst in the past 90 years.

Some 13 centimeters (five inches) of rain fell on Sunday night alone in the state capital Vitoria and civil defense officials on Tuesday warned of further flooding as rivers burst their banks.

The local church and several schools in Itaguacu were turned into makeshift refuge centers.

The rain and landslips have left many roads closed and several bridges have collapsed, with authorities saying two thirds of local districts have been affected.

Heavy rains also hit the neighboring state of Minas Gerais, where 15 fatalities have been reported since October 15.

Rousseff also pledged federal help to Minas Gerais.

Meanwhile in early December, a storm left 16 people dead and flattened more than 200 houses in the city of Lajedinho in the northeastern state of Bahia.

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