Page last updated at 23:12 GMT, Saturday, 5 April 2008 00:12 UK

Thousands flee floods in Brazil


Flooding in north-eastern Brazil has killed at least 15 people and driven tens of thousands from their homes, civil defence officials have said.

The victims drowned when the River Paraiba burst its banks and the walls of a medium-sized dam cracked in the normally arid state of Paraiba.

The flood waters, caused by torrential rains, have also destroyed corn and bean crops, and washed away roads.

Brazil's government has released around $360m (180m) to help those affected.

Some 14,000 residents of Paraiba have abandoned their homes to escape the floods, while about 19,000 have been forced to flee in nearby Piaui state, officials said.

Another 8,000 people have been evacuated in Maranhao state, and 7,500 in Pernambuco and Ceara, they added.

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