Dams erupt in northeast Brazil as region hit by flooding

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ITABUNA, Brazil, December 26 (Reuters) – Two dams broke in northeast Brazil’s Bahia state after weeks of heavy rains, inundating already swollen local rivers as floods hit towns across the region, authorities said on Sunday.

The Igua dam, on the Verruga River near the town of Vitoria da Conquista in southern Bahia, collapsed on Saturday evening, forcing authorities to evacuate residents, mainly in the town of Itambe.

A second dam gave way to rising waters in Jussiape, 100 kilometers to the north, on Sunday morning, raising more alerts for residents to move to safer ground.

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There have been no reports of fatalities or injuries from dam failures, although bridges and roads have been damaged.

Further up the coast in Itabuna, a town of 200,000, fire teams rescued residents trapped in their homes in the downtown area that was underwater, Reuters journalists said.

“It’s crazy near the bridge, there are waves almost two meters high,” trader Luiz Constancia told Reuters.

Rescuers rowed canoes along the flooded streets to reach or deliver supplies to trapped families. A man paddled an inflatable mattress to reach a house.

Locals said the level of the Cachoeira River running through the town 30 km from the coastal port town of Ilheus was the highest in 50 years.

In Vitoria da Conquista, Mayor Sheila Lemos, said all residents near the collapsed Igua dam had been evacuated.

In a post on the city’s website, Lemos said the flooding threatened to cut off the BR-116 highway, a major truck route between northeast and southern Brazil.

Bahia Governor Rui Castro said at least 400,000 people have been affected by the heavy rains and thousands have been evacuated from some 67 towns facing emergencies due to flooding caused by heavy rains. rains for almost two months.

“Thousands of people have had to leave their homes because the water has risen one or two meters, even three meters in some places,” he told reporters on Saturday.

The rains have killed 18 people in Bahia since early November, including a 60-year-old ferry owner who drowned on the swollen Rio das Contas river, civil defense officials said.

In the state capital of Salvador, weather officials said December’s rainfall was six times the average.

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Reporting by Leonardo Benassatto and Stephen Eisenhammer, written by Anthony Boadle, editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Chizu Nomiyama and Diane Craft

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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