At least 20 people have now lost their lives after weeks of intermittent flooding in the state of Bahia, northeastern Brazil. Authorities report that 358 people have been injured and almost 63,000 people displaced.
Heavy rainfall and flooding that began in mid-November has now affected 471,009 people across 116 municipalities. Around 100 municipalities have since declared an emergency situation.
Further heavy rain fell in the state from 23 December 2021. Figures from the country’s National Institute of Meteorology (Inumet) show 87.4 mm of rain in 24 hours in the city of Barreiras on 23 December and 117.9 mm in the city of Caravelas on 24 December. The following day Vitória da Conquista saw 89.8 mm in a 24 hour period, while Itiruçu recorded 127.6 mm in 24 hours on 26 December.
The recent rains caused rivers to rise, in particular the Verruga river where the Igua dam near the city of Vitoria da Conquista collapsed on 25 December, forcing authorities to evacuate residents. A second dam failed early on 26 December, this time in Jussiap situated on the Da Contas river, prompting further evacuations.
Two fatalities were reported in Itabuna where the overflowing Cachoeira River caused severe flooding, and emergency services had to rescue hundreds from flooded buildings. Military Police helicopters were used to rescue around 16 people from the roofs of flooded buildings in Ubaíra after the Jiquiriçá River broke its banks.
Visiting affected areas, Bahia Governor Rui Costa said, “In the recent history of Bahia, I do not remember such a great tragedy.” Teams of rescuers are trying to transport supplies and bring medical care to victims, the governor also said, but damage to bridges and highways has made those efforts more difficult. The state’s Infrastructure Secretariat (Seinfra) reported severe damage to highways in at least 31 locations.
Flood and rain related fatalities were reported in Amargosa (2), Itaberaba (2), Itamaraju (4), Jucuruçu (3), Macarani (1), Prado (2), Ruy Barbosa (1), Itapetinga (1), Ilhéus (1), Aurelino Leal (1) and Itabuna (2).
Os trabalhos de amparo e resgate às vítimas das fortes #chuvas continuam. Na manhã desta segunda (27), o governador Rui Costa sobrevoa cidades afetadas para verificar o trabalho de socorro que vem sendo executado🔽 pic.twitter.com/nwMASCAuN2
— GovBa (@governodabahia) December 27, 2021
Dezesseis pessoas foram resgatadas de suas casas, neste domingo, em Ubaíra, por essa equipe do Grupamento Aéreo da PM. Essas imagens mostram um desses resgates. Quero agradecer e parabenizar esses servidores e os centenas de voluntários e voluntárias que estão salvando vidas. pic.twitter.com/GC9HtG1I8z
— Rui Costa (@costa_rui) December 27, 2021