The death toll from floods rises in the state of Bahia, northeast Brazil

The death toll from the heavy rains and floods that hit the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia since November rose to 20 on Monday, amid incessant torrents that have displaced nearly 63,000 people, authorities said.

Two new deaths were registered in the town of Itabuna: a 21-year-old man who was swept away by currents and a 33-year-old woman died in a landslide, according to a local government report.

“We are experiencing the biggest disaster in the history of Bahia,” said Bahia Governor Rui Costa, who has been overseeing rescue operations in the affected areas since Saturday.

“The water is starting to drop at the source of the Cachoeira river and it is expected to improve in the coming days, albeit slowly,” Costa said.

Houses were under water and streets turned into rivers in several municipalities in the south of the state, hit since Thursday by heavy rains that caused the rupture of dams and the overflowing of rivers during the weekend.

In Itapetinga, aerial images from AFP showed three men paddling on a straw mattress in a street surrounded by houses with water pouring into their windows.

The number of people who have been driven from their homes by the floods has almost doubled since Sunday to 62,796, according to Civil Protection of Bahia.

Another 358 people have been injured since the heavy rains began in November. In total, the authorities estimate that 116 municipalities, including at least 100 that are in a state of emergency, have been affected by the heavy rains.


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