Severe drought leaves hundreds of fish dead in Brazil
Brazil's government is preparing a task force to provide emergency assistance to inhabitants in the Amazon region hit by a severe drought that has impacted the rivers that are their life support, Environment Minister Marina Silva said.
Low river levels and hotter waters have killed hundreds of fish seen floating on river surfaces, contaminating the drinking water. The record drought has disrupted river transport routes threatening food and water shortages, and a large fish mortality is already beginning, she told Reuters.
Some 111,000 people have been affected in a region where much of the population's protein comes from fishing, which will be suspended for some time, she added.
The civil defense agency warned that the drought could eventually impact up to 500,000 people in the Amazon.
The federal task force would be airlifted by the Air Force to the states of Amazonas and Acre with water, food, medicines and other resources, Silva said. The government also allocated 140 million reais ($27.76 million) to dredging rivers and ports in the region to keep transport flowing when water levels drop, she added.
The drought in the Amazon, like the flooding in the south of Brazil, results from the El Niño phenomenon, which warms the surface water in the Pacific Ocean. This year the impact has been greater than normal, weather experts say. Silva said this was the effect of a periodic El Niño mixing with changes in weather patterns brought by global warming.
(Production: Bruno Kelly, Leandra Camera, Sergio Queiroz, Gloria Lopez)