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Brazil struggles with deadly floods

by Staff Writers
Sao Paulo (AFP) Jan 6, 2011
Weeks of flooding in southeastern Brazil have killed at least 22 people and prompted officials to declare a state of emergency for 55 towns, officials and media said Thursday.

Rescue services in the worst-affected state of Minas Gerais said 16 people have died there since the onset of the wet season in November.

A 38-year-old man died Wednesday when his house collapsed in the town of Santa Rita do Supacai, injuring his wife and their four children, the state civil defense service said.

Municipalities in Minas Gerais declared the state of emergency to win government help to cope with the flooding.

In neighboring Sao Paulo state, six people died Wednesday, according to newspaper reports.

Four members of the same family -- a couple and their two children aged four and nine -- perished when a mudslide swallowed their home in the town of Jundiai, the Diario do Grande ABC reported.

In Maua, on the other side of Sao Paulo city, a mother and her 11-year-old son died when another mudslide hit their house, the Folha de Sao Paulo and Estado de Sao Paulo newspapers said.

The city of Sao Paulo suffered flooding in several areas, including a major road that was cut for several hours.

Sao Paulo's Emergency Management Center said the city received as much rain in the first six days of 2011 as it usually does in two weeks at this time of year.

"As the ground is extremely saturated and the level of rivers fairly high, the risk has increased for new landslides and flood areas," it said on its website.

It added that the heavy rains looked likely to continue in coming days.

According to Estado de Sao Paulo, a total of 473 people died across Brazil in rains and flooding in all of 2010, and 7.8 million people were affected.

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Rockhampton, Australia (AFP) Jan 6, 2011
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