Floods ease in Brazil, but 300,000-plus homeless | world | Hindustan Times
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Floods ease in Brazil, but 300,000-plus homeless

Floodwaters receded some in inundated towns across northern Brazil, but the number of homeless rose above 300,000 and two people were missing after an overloaded canoe overturned in swift waters.

world Updated: May 11, 2009 08:31 IST

Floodwaters receded some in inundated towns across northern Brazil, but the number of homeless rose above 300,000 and two people were missing after an overloaded canoe overturned in swift waters.

Forty deaths had been confirmed in northern Brazil's worst flooding in decades, fed by two months of unusually heavy rains in a zone stretching from deep in the Amazon to normally arid areas near the Atlantic coast.

In Maranhao state, one of the worst affected regions, a small canoe capsized with seven people aboard on a river between the towns of Pedreiras and Trizidela do Vale. Two passengers were missing: a 54-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman.

"She knew how to swim, but it looks like the current was too strong," said Francisco Aguiar, an uncle of the missing woman.

Police officers and firefighters were searching in motorboats, said Wallace Pires, an official with Brazil's national security force.

Emergency crews struggled to clear debris from highways blocked by landslides, seeking to open the way for desperately needed aid shipments. There have been widespread complaints that the government was too slow in delivering food and water.

"It's raining less and we were able to clear some of the highways that were blocked," Maranhao state civil defense spokesman Ivar Araujo said on Saturday.