As the FIFA World Cup is due to start in a matter of days in Brazil, two southern states, Parana and Santa Catarina, have been fatally inundated by torrential rainfall, with over 75 cities and towns affected.
The widespread flooding has thus far killed nine people and destroyed over 5,000 homes, leaving thousands homeless. Local television reported that the overflowing rivers had managed to submerge bridges and highways, making it difficult for rescue operations to be undertaken.
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In response, authorities have declared a state of emergency across the Parana state and have begun distributing vaccines and medicines in a bid to prevent an outbreak of waterborne diseases. Army helicopters have also been dispatched to provide relief to over 3,600 stranded victims.
Parana state is home to Curitiba, one of the host cities for the World Cup that has two rivers running through it; although it has been spared for the most part it is imperative that authorities continue to monitor river levels and respond accordingly as the Cup approaches. The heavy rainfall has also seen Iguazu Falls witness record levels that have prompted authorities to close the attraction, disappointing tourists.
The Civil Defence Department of Santa Catarina has issued warnings cautioning of continued flooding as well as an increased risk of landslides in the coming days.