Latin America & Caribbean

Floods kill dozens in south-east Brazil

Doce River in Vitoria, Espirito Santo state, on 26 December, 2013
Image caption Many rivers have burst their banks, such as the Doce in Espirito Santo state

More than 40 people have died following weeks of torrential rain in the south-eastern Brazilian states of Espirito Santo and Minas Gerais.

The downpours have been described as the worst to hit Espirito Santo in 90 years.

About 70,000 people have been forced to leave their homes.

Troops have been deployed to help distribute food, water and medicine to areas cut off by flooding and landslides and to repair roads.

'Rebuild the state'

"We are going to have to rebuild the state," Espirito Santo State Governor Renato Casagrande said referring to the extensive damage caused to bridges and roads.

President Dilma Rousseff interrupted her Christmas break to fly to her home state of Minas Gerais to survey the damage.

Residents of the city of Governador Valadares blocked a major highway on Thursday night demanding the federal government offer more help in the wake of the destruction.

On Tuesday, President Rousseff pledged millions of dollars in federal aid to help rebuild the area.

The sun came out on Friday in Vitoria, the state capital of Espirito Santo state and one of the worst affected areas, for the first time since 10 December.

The military is taking advantage of the break in the weather to deliver aid by helicopter.

Seven thousand people are believed to be cut off in the municipality of Baixo Guandu in the Doce river valley alone.

Flooding is common in south-east Brazil during the rainy season.

In 2011, more than 800 people were killed in floods in what officials said was the worst natural disaster ever to befall Brazil.

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