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Some 83,000 affected by Brazilian floods


RIO DE JANEIRO, April 30 (RIA Novosti) - The governor of the northern Brazilian state of Maranhao has declared the area a natural disaster zone as flash floods have affected 83,000 people in the region.

The state has been battered by heavy rains for the past three weeks. Water levels in the region's largest river, the Mearim, are currently ten meters above norm and are gaining around 0.3 m (1 foot) daily.

A state of emergency has been introduced in 18 cities and towns across the state. Power cuts and a lack of fresh drinking water have been reported in the disaster zone. Two national highways have been partially flooded.

Officials say that at least 500 houses have been completely destroyed. Many residents, however, are refusing to leave their homes amid fears of looting.

The first batch of humanitarian aid and about 115 metric tons of food arrived in the state's capital Sao Luis on Wednesday.

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