A state of emergency has been declared across the states of Maranhão, Piaui, Ceara, Bahía and Alagoas. Torrential rain has left over 14 people dead and 50,000 homeless, and major vehicle routes have been closed.
President Luis Ignácio ‘Lula’ da Silva has travelled to Maranhão today, where 29 municipalities have been categorised as high risk. Ten thousand rescue packages have been dispatched to the area, while a further US$130m has been pledged to help the victims.
Floods and mudslides have forced thousands of families out of their homes, with many of them being totally destroyed. Rainfall is at its highest in Brazil in over 20 years and in some parts of the Northeast region it has constantly rained for nearly a month, and forecasts suggest it will continue until mid-May.
The Poty river is estimated to be 14 metres over its usual level, whilst several major highways have been closed due to dangerous conditions. The BR-316, the only stretch connecting the north of the country with the northeast, was battered to such an extent that a 30 metre wide hole was created ten days ago.
Governor of Maranhão, Roseana Sarney, was quick to reassure people affected by the disaster.
“I want to assure everyone that the state and federal governments are united in coordinating the assistance for the victims. All affected areas will receive help and we will get out of this mess.”