More than 470,000 people have been affected by severe flooding in Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia, including tens of thousands rendered homeless.
There have been a total of 21 deaths and 358 people injured over the past month, in what has been the heaviest period of rainfall for Bahia in the last 32 years, according to the National Center for Monitoring and Alerts of Natural Disasters, a government agency.
Water surged into homes and businesses in dozens of towns and cities, forcing residents to abandon their belongings
In southern Bahia, it has rained more than five times the normal amount for this time of the year.
In an interview with local radio stations, Bahia governor Rui Costa compared the situation to a “bombardment”. He also said that coronavirus vaccines were lost in the floods of some cities.
“Some municipal health offices and medicine depots were completely under water,” he said.
The situation in Bahia, home to about 15 million people, deteriorated significantly late on Christmas Eve on December 24, as many residents were forced to abandon their homes for higher ground after a pair of dams gave way. Rains are expected to continue in many regions throughout the week.
Five additional dams in Bahia are at risk of bursting, disaster relief officials have said. Bridges and federal and state roads in the state were destroyed and have been provisionally rebuilt to allow food and other items to be brought to people in need.
The heavy rainfall coincides with La Nina, a weather phenomenon that typically occurs every three to five years and leads to cooler Pacific Ocean temperatures than normal.