Brazilian officials have been reported by the major outlets such as the BBC and CNN as saying the number of dead has surpassed 800 with another 400 still missing. It is thought as rescuers find more of those now considered missing; the number of dead will more than likely pass a thousand.
More than 20,000 people have been displaced, forced to live elsewhere as their homes have been destroyed. While authorities are doing what they can, setting up tents in make-shift shelters to aid those made homeless, there is still much needed to be done to support a population who has in essence lost everything.
Health problems are a concern and there are warnings of contaminated water. It has been reported that some people have contracted leptospirosis, an infectious bacterial disease apparently caused by exposure to water contaminated with rats’ urine.
Torrential rains caused whole hillsides to collapse sweeping buildings, cars, roads and bridges away in what is being labelled the worst natural disaster in Brazil. The government has now committed itself to setting up an early warning system to alert communities of impending dangers such as this one.
Al Jazeera: A family lost to Brazil’s rain – Jan 16/2011
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