Brazil dam burst: Thousands flee as country is lashed by rainfall


An excavator works trying to contain the water in a flooded road at the Corrego Dantas neighborhood in Friburgo, 150 km north of Rio de janeiro, Brazil on January 3, 2011. Six people dead, another one missing and 52 municipalities declared in a state of alert is the toll left by the summer rains season in southeastern Brazil so far. AFP PHOTO/DANIEL MAGALHAES



A burst dam in northern Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has the authorities scrambling to evacuate thousands from the town of Campos de Goytacazes, according to the BBC. South-eastern Brazil has been hit by heavy rainfall, causing major damage including floods and landslides.

Minas Gerais has declared a state of emergency in around 66 of its towns and cities, reports the BBC. The dam that burst ran across the River Muriae, protecting Campos de Goytacazes, which threatened the community of Tres Vendas with floods.

A civil defense official, Henrique Oliveira, was quoted by the BBC saying, “The river might rise three and half meters, four meters. Only the roofs will be visible.”

The Associated Press reports that at least eight people have been killed and 13,000 have been displaced by the heavy rain since October.

In the state of Minas Gerais, nearly 9,800 people have fled their homes and five people drowned or were killed in mudslides, whereas in Rio de Janeiro three lives were lost and 3,800 people left their homes. Some of these communities were hit a year ago by floods and mudslides, which claimed 800 lives and displaced 20,000 people.

More on GlobalPost: Brazil floods, land slides kill hundreds (VIDEO)

A video posted by Reuters of the flooding so far.

Bloomberg reports that forecasters are predicting almost a foot more of rain in the next week, over the states of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Espirito Santo and Sao Paulo. One small benefit of the heavy rain has been the replenishing of humidity in the soil for one of Brazil’s main exports, coffee. Bloomberg identifies Brazil as the world’s largest coffee producer and exporter.

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