Dam rupture in northeastern Brazil forces evacuations
Adds details on the dam burst, evacuations, the highway at risk, the governor’s comments
SAO PAULO, December 26 (Reuters) – A dam collapsed in Brazil’s northeastern Bahia state after weeks of heavy rains, inundating already swollen local rivers and threatening flash floods, regional authorities said on Saturday evening.
The Igua dam is near the town of Vitoria da Conquista in southern Bahia, which has led authorities to evacuate residents at risk downstream, mainly in the town of Itambe.
There were no reports of fatalities or injuries or major damage, although details of the incident remained limited.
“A dam with a large volume of water has collapsed and a strong flash flood will impact the town of Itambe …”, published the town hall of Itambe on its official Instagram account.
“All residents must urgently evacuate the banks of the Verruga River,” he added.
Itambe is an agricultural region in southern Bahia located about 200 km (125 miles) inland from the coastal town of Ilhéus.
Vitoria da Consquista mayor Sheila Lemos said all residents near the river had been evacuated.
In a post on the city’s website, Lemos said the flooding threatened to cut off the BR-116 highway, a major truck route between northeast and southern Brazil.
Bahia Governor Rui Castro said at least 300 people have been evacuated from each of the state’s 20 or so towns that have been hit by flooding caused by heavy rains for nearly two months.
“Thousands of people have had to leave their homes because the water has risen one or two meters, even three meters in some places,” he told reporters on Saturday.
The rains have killed 17 people in Bahia since early November and 66 cities are facing emergencies, civil defense officials said.
In the state capital of Salvador, weather officials said December’s rainfall was six times the average.
(Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer and Anthony Boadle, editing by Mark Heinrich and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
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