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People risk crossing flooded streets in city of Manaus, capital of Amazonas
The level of Negro river reached 29.98 meters this Tuesday in ManausImage: Josemar Antunes/TheNEWS2/Zuma/picture alliance

Brazil: Severe flooding in Amazonas state

June 2, 2021

The Rio Negro has swollen to levels unseen in over a century of record-keeping. More than 450,000 people have been affected state-wide.


Residents in Manaus, the biggest city in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, were struggling to cope with severe flooding after heavy rain caused nearby rivers to swell.

The Rio Negro reached its highest water level since records began in 1902, with a depth of 29.98 meters (98 feet) at the port's measuring station on Tuesday.

The nearby Solimoes and Amazon rivers were also nearing all-time highs.

Aerial view of streets flooded by the Negro River, in downtown Manaus
Entire parts of downtown Manaus were underwater after the nearby river burst its banksImage: Nelson Antoine/AP/picture alliance

How bad are the floods in Manaus?

More than 24,000 families and 15 districts of Manaus have been affected and many people had to leave their homes, according to Brazilian online news site G1. Parts of the port area and the historic center of Manaus were underwater.

A man pushes a shopping cart loaded with bananas through a street flooded by the Negro River in downtown Manaus
Some residents in Manaus attempted to carry on with their daily lives despite the floodingImage: Edmar Barros/AP/picture alliance

More than 9,000 meters of wooden bridges — known as marombas — were built in the hardest-hit areas to help residents navigate the city.

Flooding across Amazonas state

The high water levels are not just confined to Manaus. There has been flooding across almost all of Amazonas state and caused damage in nearly 60 of 62 municipalities.

Vera Regina de Souza Lira, 62, stands on a wooden structure that was placed inside her home above the floodwaters
Other residents, such as 62-year-old Vera Regina de Souza Lira, tried to raise their floorboards above rising watersImage: Edmar Barros/AP/picture alliance

More than 450,000 people have been affected state-wide.

The Amazon River also reached peak levels in cities including Itacoatiara, located in the east of the state.

Is climate change contributing?

Higher-than-usual precipitation is associated with the La Nina phenomenon when currents in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean affect global climate patterns.

Environmental experts and organizations including the US Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say there is strong evidence that human activity and global warming are altering the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including La Nina.

A boy looks from the window of his home, at the floodwaters of the Negro River in Manaus
River levels have not reached these heights since records began over a century agoImage: Edmar Barros/AP/picture alliance

Seven of the 10 biggest floods in the Amazon basin have occurred in the past 13 years, data from Brazil's state-owned Geological Survey shows.

Meteorologists say Amazon water levels could continue to rise slightly until late June or July, when floods usually peak.

kmm/msh (dpa, Reuters)

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