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