44 dead in Brazil’s worst floods in decades

May 10th, 2009 - 7:43 am ICT by IANS  

Brasilia, May 10 (EFE) Forty-four people have died in Brazil’s worst floods in more than four decades that also left thousands more homeless, officials said.
Floods and mudslides caused by the heavy rains for the past two weeks have left 44 people dead and nearly 185,000 people homeless in northern Brazil, the civil defence authorities said Saturday.

Most of the fatalities occurred in the Ceara, Maranhao, Amazonas and Bahia regions with 36 deaths. Authorities in several areas have declared a state of emergency.

About 130,000 food baskets and 1.4 million kits containing mattresses, blankets and pillows have been distributed in the affected areas, authorities said.

According to an official estimate, the total economic losses from the flooding - most severe since mid-1950s - would be about one billion reais (about $482 million).

Weather officials said the rains would continue through this weekend which may cause more flooding and mudslides in the affected areas.

Meanwhile, National Integration Minister Geddel Vieira Lima said he would tour the affected areas to determine the amount of aid required to mitigate the crisis.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said earlier he was unhappy with the rehabilitation work, as the “bureaucratic hurdles” have prevented the government from providing fast aid to the affected people.

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