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Dams in Brazil burst by heavy rains, swamping already swollen local rivers

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Two dams gave way in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia after weeks of heavy rains, swamping already swollen local rivers as flooding hit towns across the region, authorities said on Sunday.

The Igua dam, on the Verruga river near the city of Vitoria da Conquista in southern Bahia, collapsed on Saturday night, forcing authorities to evacuate residents, mainly in the town of Itambe.

A second dam gave way to rising water levels in Jussiape, 100 kilometers (62 miles) to the north, on Sunday morning, bringing more alerts for residents to move to safer ground.

There were no reports of deaths or injuries caused by the dam failures, though bridges and roads were damaged.

Further towards the coast in Itabuna, a city of 200,000 inhabitants, fire brigade teams rescued residents trapped in their homes in the downtown area that was under water, Reuters reporters said.

Bahia Governor Rui Castro said at least 400,000 people have been impacted by the heavy rains and thousands evacuated from some 67 towns facing emergency situations due to floods caused by heavy rainfall for almost two months.

“Thousands of people have had to leave their homes because the water rose one or two meters, even three meters in some places,” he told reporters on Saturday.

The rains have caused 18 deaths in Bahia since the beginning of November, including a 60-year-old ferry owner who drowned on the swollen Rio das Contas river, civil defense officials said.

In the state capital of Salvador, weather officials said December rainfall has been six times greater than the average.

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