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Thousands homeless due to heavy rains in Brazil

world Updated: Sep 13, 2009 08:37 IST

Heavy rains in southern Brazil over the last few days have killed two people and forced some 19,000 people to abandon their homes, officials said.

In the state of Santa Catarina, the hardest hit by the storm, a 60-year-old woman was drowned on a highway flooded by the Ararangua River near the town of Praia Grande, according to the latest bulletin from regional officials.

In the neighboring state of Rio Grande do Sul, a man of 45 died on Saturday when the Mel River overflowed its banks in the municipality of Irai and swept his car away.

The recent rains have increased the number of homeless people in Santa Catarina to some 19,000, including those hit by a windstorm that caused the deaths of four people last Monday in the town of Guaraciaba on the Argentine border.

During the last few hours, the level of several rivers has risen considerably and some have overflowed their banks, making a number of national and regional highways impassable, while isolating various towns in the southern part of the state.

Santa Catarina's Civil Defense said that 1,200 people are isolated in eight different villages in the rural area of Turvo municipality.

The weather forecast warns that the storm will continue until on Sunday, dropping as much as 150 mm of rain in southern Santa Catarina, which will increase the risk of mudslides and floods.

Earlier this week in Argentina, the same storm system pummeled several small towns in the northeastern province of Misiones, taking 11 lives.

Another 56 people were hospitalized in the province, 16 in serious condition, while the number of evacuees rose to 400, according to sources cited by the official Telam news agency.

Meanwhile Argentine President Cristina Fernandez pledged to rebuild destroyed homes and help restore the victims' farm-based livelihoods.

According to authorities in Misiones, the powerful windstorm destroyed around 100 homes, four schools and a health clinic.