Photo: Dilma Rousseff
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff flew over flood-ravaged areas in her native state of Minas Gerais on Friday and announced more humanitarian aid for the victims of the torrential rains that up to now have left 41 people dead in the southeastern part of the country.
“It’s terrible,” the head of state told reporters, along with Minas Gerais Gov. Antonio Anastasia and other state and local officials.
Minas Gerais has been, together with neighboring Espiritu Santo, the state hit hardest by the downpours that started falling more than a week ago and that have left a total of 41 fatalities and some 60,000 evacuees.
Rousseff, who on Thursday went to a beach on the coast of the northeastern state of Bahia for a few days of rest and relaxation, interrupted her vacation for the trip to Minas Gerais.
The president said she was particularly struck by the extent of the disaster in Virgolandia, a town of some 6,000 inhabitants that is almost completely underwater.
Rousseff alerted people to forecasts calling for more rain in the coming days and said that “the first job is to save the lives” of those stranded in areas isolated by the flooding.
“After we rescue them, once the rains have stopped, that will be the time to rebuild what the rain has destroyed,” she said.
As she did last Tuesday when she toured the regions flooded by the rains in Espiritu Santo, the president announced the immediate shipment of humanitarian aid to Minas Gerais.
The aid will basically consist of blankets, medicines, food and potable water, and will be distributed by troops of the armed forces.