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Brazil Pledges Aid to Flood Victims


Brazil's government has pledged nearly one billion dollars in aid to the southern Santa Catarina state, where rain-spawned landslides have left at least 86 people dead and displaced about 54,000 others.

Authorities also have deployed police to stop looters from ransacking grocery stores and supermarkets. Officials said that in some areas, people have not had food or water in at least four days and are hungry.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was expected to tour the hard-hit state, where the landslides buried buildings and destroyed roads. Helicopters - some provided by the government - have rescued more than 1,000 people.

Officials said there still is a risk of more landslides in the area. Local politicians have declared states of emergency, urging people to leave their homes and seek shelter at safer locations.

Flooding also cut natural gas supplies after rupturing a pipeline that runs from Bolivia to Brazil. The town of Ilhota was the hardest hit by the floods, with 15 people killed after waters rose more than nine meters above normal.

Another 13 people died when they were buried by mudslides in the city of Blumenau - a tourist destination attraction founded by German immigrants and known for its annual Oktoberfest celebration.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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