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Flooding in Brazil leaves tens of thousands homeless, at least seven dead

Flooding in Brazil’s northeastern states of Pernambuco and Alagoas has left tens of thousands of people homeless and at least seven people dead, authorities said Monday.

About 35,000 have lost their homes in the state of Pernambuco after nearly 12 inches of rain fell over the weekend, causing authorities to declare a state of emergency in 15 municipalities. At least three people died and two others were missing in the region of the state known as Zona da Mata Sul.

Videos sent to the local station TV Globo show a hospital in the city of Rio Formoso flooded with muddy water as employees and patients, including a woman in a wheelchair, try to leave the building.

Pernambuco Gov. Paulo Camara flew over the flooded areas Sunday before issuing the emergency degree. He noted in a post on Facebook that the damage could have been much worse had the Serro Azul dam not been completed just one month ago.

He is expected to meet with National Integration Minister Helder Barbalho in Brasilia, the nation’s capital, on Tuesday to discuss federal aid and rebuilding.

“The minister has been sensitive to our difficulties,” he said. “I am confident that I will come back with an effective schedule to solve these problems.”

Civil defense workers and firefighters in Pernambuco continued to help residents affected by the flooding. The state government sent medical teams to cities in the Mata Sul region, which were either underwater or covered in thick, brown mud.

The government also worked with municipalities to distribute food and drinking water Monday and set up shelters for the homeless.

In the neighboring state of Alagoas, four people were killed and 2,000 left homeless after heavy rains caused flooding and mudslides in the capital, Maceio, and the Marechal Deodoro region, where a state of emergency was also declared. Five other people were missing.

The state has implemented a similar plan to that of Pernambuco. Gov. Renan Filho, who flew over Alagoas to evaluate the damage, said Monday that assistance was being given to the homeless.

“I'm following the work that’s being done closely,” Filho said on his Facebook page. “I guarantee that we will do everything in our power to help these Alagoans.”

Late Sunday night, after meeting with government officials from the two states affected, Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, announced that the federal government would release funds to help them. Brazil’s development bank, BNDES, planned to make available a line of credit worth $184 million.

“This is what we’re here for,” Temer said at a news conference. “With the emergency decrees established, the funds will be released. We still don’t know the exact amount because we need to evaluate the damage and determine what needs to be done.”

Langlois is a special correspondent.


UPDATES:

4:15 p.m.: This article was updated with a new death toll and details of the flooding in the affected states.

This article was originally published at 12:10 p.m.

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