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116 cities in Brazil are under a state of emergency due to rains

A total of 116 cities in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia were under a state of emergency on Tuesday due to floods caused by heavy rains that have hit the region since late November.

Cities in at least five other states in the north and southeast of Brazil have also suffered floods in recent days.

In Bahia, floods have affected more than 400,000 people. In at least 50 cities, water entered homes and businesses, and people were forced to abandon their belongings. 31,500 people have been left homeless and another 31,000 have been displaced, according to official state government data.

In all, 20 people have died and 358 have been injured since the beginning of the month.

Bahia had not had such heavy rainfall in the last 32 years, according to the website of the National Center for Natural Disaster Alerts and Monitoring, a government agency. In southern Bahia, it rained more than five times more than the usual amount for this time of year.

In an interview Tuesday with local radio stations, Bahia Governor Rui Costa compared the situation to a “bombing” and added that COVID-19 vaccines were lost in some cities due to flooding.

“Some municipal health offices and drug warehouses were completely submerged under water,” he added.

On Tuesday, authorities advised residents of at least four municipalities in Bahia to leave their homes due to the swollen channel of the Pardo river as they opened the floodgates of the Machado Minero dam in neighboring Minas Gerais state, according to the government’s advisory department.

Bahia Civil Defense Superintendent Colonel Miguel Filho told The Associated Press that cities are still flooded and isolated, and the rains continue.

“Our first response is to help, then to provide shelter to serve the population in shelters with humanitarian assistance, with sheets, blankets, food,” he said.

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