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Floods Leave 24 Dead, 140,000 Homeless in Brazil

December 27, 1989

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ Flooding in Brazil’s normally dry east-central region has killed 24 people and left at least 140,000 homeless, national civil defense spokesman Silvio Reiner says.

Speaking by telephone on Tuesday from Brasilia, the capital, 750 miles northwest of Rio, Reiner said 140 cities and towns in five of the 26 states were affected by flooding, caused by more than two weeks of torrential rain.

Unofficial reports said most of those killed drowned or were buried when houses collapsed.

Reiner said the worst hit area was northeastern Bahia state, where 105,000 people were driven from their homes.

Road traffic between Cachoeira, 930 miles northeast of Rio, and the rest of the country was cut off by the Paraguacu River, which overflowed and covered much of the city.

TV film showed canoes and rowboats paddling down flooded streets with families carrying sofas, stoves and other household goods to dry ground.

The city dates from the Portuguese colonial era and is considered a national historic monument.

Cachoeira was without electricity and was running out of food and drinking water, Reiner said. Civil defense workers were flying in emergency shipments of food, blankets and medicine, mainly antityphoid and snakebite serum, he said.

In Minas Gerais state, south of Bahia, 5,765 houses collapsed in 70 townships, the official said, and 24,200 people were homeless.

About 11,000 Brazilians had to abandon their homes in nearby Goias, Tocantins and Maranhao states, he said.

More rain for the region was forecast.

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