The Igua Dam on the Veruga River near the town of Vitoria da Conquista in southern Bahia collapsed on Saturday night, December 25th. Authorities were forced to evacuate residents, mainly in the city of Itambe.
On Sunday morning, the second dam collapsed due to rising water levels in the Juziap dam, 100 km north. Authorities also issued a warning to residents to move to a safer area.
Bridges and roads have been damaged in many places. There are indications that 10 more dams are likely to collapse. The O Globo newspaper reported, citing a state fire official, that authorities were monitoring the situation.
The international news agency Reuters reports that firefighters have rescued residents trapped in homes in submerged downtown areas off the coast of Itabuna, home to two million people.
‘When you reach the bridge, the water gets a little more polluted. The waves are up to two meters high, ” shop owner Louis Constancia told Reuters.
Rescuers relied on small boats to reach the trapped families and pick up supplies for them. This includes those who have tried to reach their homes through windy beds and other things through the flooded streets.
Locals say the water level of the Kachoira River, which flows through a town about 30 kilometers from the coastal port city of Ilheus, has reached its highest level in half a century.
Sheila Lemos, mayor of Vitoria da Conquista, said all residents near the collapsed Igua Dam had been evacuated.
They also said the floodwaters would affect the BR-116 highway, the main truck route between northeastern and southern Brazil.
Heavy rains affected at least 400,000 people. It has been raining heavily here for about two months. Bahia Governor Rui Castro said thousands of people had been evacuated from 67 cities affected by the floods following the rains.
‘Many people had to leave their homes as the water rose to a height of one or two meters. In some places it has risen to three meters, “he told reporters on Saturday.
A few years ago, a mining dam in the neighboring state of Minas Gerais collapsed, killing at least 270 people. It was then that the scrutiny of public infrastructure and town planning began.
It is still raining heavily in La Nina. This is usually a climatic phenomenon that occurs every three to five years. This is because the temperature in the Pacific Ocean tends to be colder than usual.
Al Jazeera reports that the Brazilian government has announced $ 35.5 million (200 million Brazilian riyals) in disaster relief funds for the disaster-stricken areas.
116 cities in the northeastern state of Bahia have been receiving heavy rainfall since November. So the area was in a state of emergency the previous day.
Far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolzoni, who is on holiday in the southern state of Santa Catarina, posted on Twitter on Tuesday morning, December 28, announcing relief aid.
State firefighters said in a statement Tuesday afternoon that they had ordered the evacuation of neighborhoods in four municipalities in the wake of the flood disaster.
Bahia has received the heaviest rainfall in 32 years, according to the government’s National Center for Monitoring and Alert of the Natural Disaster website.
As many as 18 people have been killed in torrential rains in Bahia since early November, civil defense officials said.
In the state capital, Salvador, the rainfall in December was six times higher than the average, according to meteorological officials.
Source: Reuters, Al Jazeera | Compiled by Sruthy C.R