Heavy rains batter four continents

2011-01-15 16:33

Continued heavy rains and landslides have killed hundreds and displaced thousands of people across four continents in the past few weeks.

In Brazil, where mudslides killed more than 500 people, citizens are growing frustrated, saying Brazil’s government has fallen short in ­rescuing victims still stranded on remote hillsides and finding the bodies of the dead.

By Friday night – the fourth night since torrential rains sent ­avalanches of mud and boulders smashing through communities in the mountains on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro – many people were still begging officials for help.

Many also took it upon themselves to search for their dead and help out the living.

The military said it was sending 11 helicopters and 500 personnel to help approximately 800 rescuers from fire departments and the state civil defence agency who were struggling to reach stricken areas in the incessant rain.

The army and navy also pledged heavy-digging machinery, ambulances and generators – essential to continue the rescue effort during nights.

In Australia, heavy rain prompted new flood warnings even as thousands of volunteers cleaned up the gooey mess coating homes and streets in Brisbane yesterday.

Four states had flood warnings due to overflowing rivers and rain, while Queensland worked to ­recover from its deadly, week-long disaster.

Large parts of the vast state are still under water and some places are still on alert for flooding. At least 26 people have died. Another 28 are missing, while thousands of homes and businesses have been flooded.

In Brisbane, about 7 000 residents joined 600 military personnel in what was dubbed Salvation Saturday to shovel, mop and sweep away the mess after the Brisbane River overflowed earlier this week.

In Philippines, the government yesterday said heavy rains during f the past two weeks have left at least 47 people dead from flash floods and landslides.

Monsoon rains have battered parts of the country since December 29, with more thunderstorms still forecast. More than 18 000 people are housed in government evacuation centres because of the continuing danger.

In Sri Lanka, the health ministry has mobilised human resources and medical supplies to the flood-affected areas and strengthened the disease surveillance system to prevent any outbreaks.

In South Africa, the army was on standby in case of further flooding – which has already killed dozens of people – along the ­Orange River, in Northern Cape, after weeks of torrential downpours.

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