Saturday, January 15, 2011

DFA checking on Pinoys in Brazil amid floods, mudslide

Philippine officials in Brazil are coordinating with Filipino community leaders there to determine if Filipinos are among the casualties in recent floods and landslides that hit the Rio de Janeiro area.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced this on Saturday even as it said reports reaching it so far still indicate that Filipinos there are safe.

“The Embassy is in touch with the leaders of the Filipino community there, estimated at 425, and has issued an advisory to the community members to immediately contact Embassy officials should they be aware of any Filipino needing assistance, according to Philippine Embassy in Brasilia Minister Chris Montero," the DFA said on its website.

To date, it said no Filipinos have been reported to be adversely affected by the recent flooding and mudslides in Rio de Janeiro.

Philippine Ambassador to Brazil Eva Betita also reported there are no Filipinos staying in evacuation centers.

The DFA said Betita also based her assessment on a list of victims made available by the Office of the Mayor of Sao Paulo, which was forwarded to the Embassy by the Philippine Honorary Consulate General in Sao Paulo.

Towns near Rio de Janeiro were deluged with heavy downpour after storms hit the area early Wednesday.

A few hours before dawn, mudslides sliced through the towns and hamlets and destroyed homes, roads and bridges. Electricity and telephone lines were down.

Citing reports reaching it, the DFA said Teresopolis, Novo Friburgo and Petropolis were the worst affected towns near Rio de Janeiro.

The disaster was considered to be the worst to hit Brazil in years. The death toll has already risen to more than 500 as of recent reports.

Similar floods inundated Queensland, Brisbane and Ipswich last week, following two weeks of heavy rains in eastern Australia brought by tropical cyclone Tasha combined with a La NiƱa weather pattern — said to be the strongest since 1973.

The DFA earlier said there were no reported casualties from some 18,000 Filipinos in Queensland. (See: DFA: Pinoys in Australia safe amid floods)—Jerrie M. Abella/JV, GMANews.TV

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