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Heavy rains trigger landslides and worst river flooding since record-keeping began, Brazil

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Several tributaries of the Amazon River in Brazil are registering the biggest floods ever recorded as heavy rains continued lashing parts of the country. On June 5, 2021, the Negro River in Manaus reached 30 m (98 feet), becoming the city's largest flood since record-keeping began in 1902. In Santa Catarina, flooding and landslides prompted more than a hundred people to evacuate since June 8.

In the Amazonas state, the Solimoes River is currently at 20.8 m (68 feet), the highest level since its water volume began to be measured in 1972.

In Anama, local media reported that the situation is even more critical, where 9 670 people have been affected. Medical crews had to use boats to reach people as the Solimoes River flooded the Francisco Salles de Moura Hospital.

The Amazon River, measured in Itacoatiara, is at its second-highest level ever recorded having reached 15.2 m (49.9 feet). The record of 16.04 m (52.6 feet) was observed in 2009.

Several neighborhoods in the city have been inundated since March, leaving families and businesses severely affected.

The Negro River reached 30 m (98 feet), surpassing the record level in 2012 by 3 cm (1.2 inches). With this, Manaus registers its largest flood in history, since records began in 1902.

More than 24 000 families have been affected by floods that have hit at least 15 neighborhoods, according to the Civil Defense.

Torrential rains affecting Santa Catarina since June 8 triggered flooding and landslides, prompting rescues from the Military Fire Department.

The hardest-hit area was the city of Canelinha, where dozens of homes were flooded and 146 people were evacuated to temporary shelters after 288 mm (11.3 inches) of rain fell in 24 hours. 

Electricity and water supply were interrupted and schools had to suspend classes. Antonio Carlos Machado Junior, the deputy mayor of Canelinha, told local media that the city is providing a public calamity decree.

"The drainage system failed and invaded many homes. It happened unexpectedly and very quickly. We are collecting information so that we can provide assistance to people who have been left homeless."

"We've already assembled the teams to go to the locations, to help people with food and everything they need, as soon as the water goes down."

Some residents in the affected neighborhoods of Cobre, Papagaio, and Centro, who have been living there for more than 30 years, said this is the first time flood has invaded their homes and damaged their properties. 16 military firefighters were deployed to assist people in flood-ravaged sites.

Other rescues and evacuations were conducted in Brusque, Tubarao, and Itajai. At least 16 municipalities have reported incidents of flooding and impacts of severe weather, with further heavy rain expected to continue. 

While heavy rains are drenching parts of the country, the ongoing drought has worsened in portions of the central and southern region, with 80 municipalities declaring an emergency situation. 

Featured image credit: CNN Brazil/YouTube (still shot)

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