Times Wire Reports

Brazilians huddled in cow pens converted into emergency shelters as swollen rivers continued to rise and northern Brazil’s worst floods in decades boosted the number of homeless to nearly 300,000.

The death toll rose to 39, and heavy rains washed away earth from one cemetery, dislodging coffins into a river.

In Bacabal, a city of 95,000 surrounded by small farms and jungle, more than 1,000 displaced people were crammed into a sprawling complex of stables and wooden shacks that is home to an annual cattle fair.

Local health officials acknowledged that sanitary conditions in the stables were deplorable and could lead to outbreaks of disease, but the people there said they feared that conditions could be worse elsewhere if they were forced to go.