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PARAMARIBO, Suriname–Suriname has expressed solidarity with the Governments of Brazil and Australia; both countries have been hit hard by floods. In Brazil the floods and landslides, the deadliest natural disasters to strike in decades, have killed close to 600 people. In Australia, the floods have caused 26 deaths in the country’s northeast since late November, and 14 others are missing, most of them from the latest flash flood that hit last Monday.
President Bouterse said Suriname is encouraged by the resilience the people of both countries have displayed in the wake of their disasters. “Suriname grieves for Brazil and Australia,” Bouterse wrote in his letters to the Presidents of the stricken countries. He wished them strength in their rebuilding processes. “We have no doubt that you will be able to, with inspiring leadership, dedication and steadfastness,” the President wrote.
Reuters reports that in the Brazilian town of Teresopolis, dozens of flood survivors desperate for news of missing relatives, lined up outside a morgue on Saturday as criticism grew of authorities’ response. Nearly four days after rains sparked floods and massive landslides, officials in this scenic mountain town are still struggling to cope with the scale of the catastrophe. The steadily rising death toll in the region north of Rio de Janeiro hit 591 on Saturday, Brazil’s Civil Defense agency said, and President Dilma Rousseff declared three days of national mourning. She has allocated US$ 461 million for reconstruction efforts in the heaviest hit areas.
And in Australia, the engorged rivers that flooded Queensland towns have now swelled south into other states. In New South Wales, nearly 7,000 people have been isolated by floodwaters that overflowed highways and emergency services helicopters were air-dropping food and other supplies to residents. In northern Victoria, a dozen small communities were sandbagging amid fears of high-peaking rivers and 3,000 people have evacuated. An economist has estimated the Queensland floods’ cost could be as much as $13 billion, or 1 percent of gross domestic product, in Australia’s 1.3 trillion Australian dollar ($1.29 trillion) economy.