Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Deadly floods strike northern Brazil

SAO PAULO, Brazil (CNN) At least 18 people have died in heavy flooding across 11 states in northern and northeastern Brazil, according to a statement Tuesday from Brazil's national civil defense service.

Severe rains and mudslides prompted Brazil's Ministry of National Integration to distribute more than 1,100 tons of food across six states -- Amazonas, Piaui, Maranhao, Para, Paraiba and Acre.

In Maranhao, 22,000 people have been left homeless and 25,000 had to flee their homes, authorities said. Forty-two municipalities in the state have declared a state of emergency. Seven people in the state have died in flooding, according to a statement from the Maranhao civil defense authority.

In Ceara the death toll was at seven, authorities said. More than 11,000 people are in public shelters and another 15,000 fled to friends' or relatives' homes. Six municipalities have declared a state of emergency, according to a statement from Ceara civil defense authority.

In Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia, four people died Tuesday in flooding, authorities said. They were killed when three buildings collapsed after a landslide in the Piraja area.

In Para, at least 1,000 people had to flee their homes. A statement from the Para civil defense authority said 28 municipalities have declared a state of emergency.