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Severe flooding hits Brazil as Amazon rivers rise to near-record levels


Heavy rains in Brazil's Amazon rainforest have triggered the rise of rivers to near-record levels, flooding towns and threatening Manaus City. According to authorities, the water level at the Rio Negro is the third-highest in history and may surpass the record 2012 flood.

More than 400 000 residents have been affected by flooding, said the Civil Defense, many of whom were evacuated as the water levels increased.

The Rio Negro was rising by around 3 cm (1.2 inches) per day and as of Monday, May 17, 2021, streets in Manaus were submerged underwater.

"The water level is the third highest in the history of the city. If it continues like this, it will pass the record 2012 flood," said mayoral spokesman Emerson Quaresma.

Philip Fearnside, an ecologist at the National Institute of Amazonian Research in Manaus, said climate change has brought heavy rainy years and dry years, impacting farming. Amazon deforestation may also contribute to long-term changes but does not affect rainfall year to year, he added.

Authorities have built wooden walkways for pedestrians to access the Manaus market as the area is engulfed in floodwater.

Small riverside towns, including Anama, have been totally inundated, forcing residents to evacuate. In Manaus, homes of 4 700 families are in danger.

Featured image credit: GIOVANI – Aqualaje Plantas e Cia/YouTube


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