By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio State Governor Sérgio Cabral confirmed late last night that heavy rains expected this weekend mean that the whole of Rio de Janeiro State is on maximum alert, after concerns raised by the Civil Defense about the mountainous hillside communities in the city and the north and north-eastern districts.

A major breach in the BR-356 highway ruptured the levee and caused the community of Três Vendas, Campos, RJ State, to be flooded, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A major breach in the BR-356 highway caused the Três Vendas community near Campos, Rio de Janeiro State, to be flooded, image recreation.

About 4,000 people were being evacuated from their houses yesterday after a levee ruptured near Campos in the north of the state, according to Civil Defense Secretary Henrique Oliveira.

Around 600 people have been made homeless and a thousand families affected by water from the River Muriaé, and officials are calling in the Army to help with the evacuations.

The same community was deluged in 2008 after the same stretch of the road – the BR-356 – was broken through by flood water after the levee was breached, leaving 20,000 people homeless.

On Wednesday, six of Rio’s municipalities declared a state of emergency after flooding caused by heavy rains. This is appearing to be a regular occurrence in January, with Globo News reporting some 20,000 in total have now had to leave their homes.

Throughout Brazil, more than two million people have been affected by this year’s rains, the Civil Defense has been reported as saying.

The rains have caused a number of deaths in neighboring Minas Gerais State already, and many communities in Rio de Janeiro state, particularly in the mountainous Região Serrana, remain on high alert.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Update is a new feature we are offering to help keep you up-to-date with major news as it happens.

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