Thousands flee floods in World Cup host city
SAO PAULO (AP) — Floods have killed nine people and driven tens of thousands of people from their homes while swelling rivers to record levels in southern Brazil and neighboring Paraguay and Argentina, authorities said Tuesday, but so far they have not affected preparations for soccer’s World Cup.
The civil defense department in Brazil’s Parana state said that 132 cities have been flooded there, including the state capital of Curitiba that will host four World Cup games.
It said 13,000 people have been forced to evacuate due to torrential rains upstream.
Curitiba City Hall spokesman Alvaro Borba said the Arena da Baixada stadium, the training center, hotels and tourist sites are nowhere near the Borigui river that overflowed its banks. He said the Spanish national team has been training normally and forecasters said rains are not expected when the stadium hosts its first Cup encounter on June 16, when Iran meets Nigeria.
Other teams playing in the city are Iran, Honduras, Ecuador, Australia, Algeria and Russia.
The torrential rainfalls of recent days also have caused widespread flooding in Argentina and Paraguay, where officials said about 100,000 people had been forced to evacuate.
The Iguazu and Parana rivers that Brazil shares with Paraguay and Argentina rose to historic levels, forcing authorities to open two major hydroelectric dams above the world-renowned Iguazu Falls, where the water flow increased nearly 30-fold, from 1,500 cubic meters per second to 43,000 meters per second, topping the previous record of 36,000 set in 1992.
The park’s viewing areas were closed to tourists and employees removed walkways that would otherwise be destroyed. On the Brazil side, the rising water swallowed the cement viewing platform where thousands of tourists usually take selfies below the “Garganta del Diablo,” or Devil’s Throat.
Floodgates also had to be opened to avoid damaging the Yacreta and Itaipu hydroelectric dams that Paraguay shares with Argentina and Brazil upstream from the triple border. Hundreds of riverside homes were flooded, particularly in and around Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, which lies directly downstream from the falls.
Associated Press Writer Michael Warren in Buenos Aires contributed to this report.