Heavy rain kill 50 in southern Brazil

November 25th, 2008 - 12:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Rio de Janeiro, Nov 25 (IANS) At least 50 people have been killed in continuous heavy rain ravaging the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina for the past one week, with authorities saying the toll could reach much higher, EFE reported Tuesday.More than 22,000 people have been forced to leave their homes due to the floods and landslides caused by unusual rain in the state, attributed to climatic crisis by experts, over the past two months. Some 1.5 million people have been affected by the storm, the department said.

Four cities in the state were cut off from the rest of the countries due to the landslides, which blocked traffic on at least 18 highways. The worst hit towns are Ilhota, with 14 dead, and Blumenau, with 13.

Governor Luiz Henrique da Silveira declared a state of emergency Saturday, saying the situation was “a climatic crisis that requires everyone to come together.”

Civil defence official Marcio Luiz Alves said most of the deaths were caused by landslides, and many areas affected by landslides were still cut off from the rest of the country.

“We are using sniffer dogs, but the number of victims is likely to increase as we gain access to those places,” he said.

Rescue teams were using helicopters and motor boats to reach the isolated areas, and the Brazilian air force is using two transport planes to airlift supplies.

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