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BRAZIL'S FLOOD COVERED VAST AREA

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SAO PAULO : Brazilians huddled with livestock in shelters, paddled swollen rivers in search of food and complained that government aid was slow to arrive in a vast region stricken by some of the worst rainfall and flooding in two decades.
Authorities reported at least 32 deaths from drowning and mudslides and said more than 200,000 people have fled swamped, ramshackle homes. Rain continued to fall across a huge swath stretching from the Amazon jungle to the northeastern Atlantic coast, and meteorologists predicted the bad weather could last for weeks.
Rivers were rising as much as a foot (30 centimeters) a day in the hardest hit state of Maranhao. The surging torrents wrecked bridges and made it too dangerous for relief workers to take boats onto some waterways.
"There are some places where the water is so high that not even a boat can get to people," said army Lt. Ivar Araujo, the commander of 200 soldiers trying to help two towns where tiled roofs barely poked above swirling waters and hundreds of people packed into gyms and schools on higher ground.
Television images showed hundreds of people with pets and chickens crowded inside an abandoned hospital turned into a shelter with only one working bathroom. Some victims paddled canoes to retrieve belongings from inundated homes, and children said they had no food. Isolated cases of looting were reported in communities cut off by high water.
In three Amazon states, at least 3,000 Indians living near rivers were chased to higher ground or into the jungle when flood waters gushed in and destroyed their crops of manioc, bananas and potatoes, said Sebastiao Haji Manchiner, executive secretary of the Brazilian Amazon Indigenous Organization.
Courtesy: AP
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