|Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff inspects flood hit areas during a flood in December last year. Photo credit: AP / Roberto Stuckert.
By Anders Lorenzen
The South American country Brazil are on everyone’s lips at the moment as this year’s biggest sporting event, the football World Cup, is underway.
The organisers are desperate to steer away controversial issues such as the social unrests that occurred and still is occurring, and instead talk about football matters. But now it seems another issue that could cause disruption is popping up, and it’s an issue that the organisers would have no influence over – that of mother nature.
While football coverage has dominated world news headlines about Brazil, deadly flooding in the run up to the World Cup that killed at least nine people has almost gone unreported.
Torrential rains caused rivers to swell to record levels on 10th June, just days before the start of the World Cup on 12th June. As well as a death count of at least nine people, thousands were forced to flee their homes. 132 cities in Brazil’s Parana state have been affected, including the state capital of Curitiba, which is one of 12 World Cup host cities and will be the site of four games. Over that weekend, torrential rains upstream in the Barigui River forced 13,000 people to evacuate the city.
Though officials are saying that the flooding did not hamper preparations for the World Cup.
The worst-hit areas in Brazil are nearly 200 miles from Curitiba. Parana Governor Beto Richa declared a state of emergency in 77 towns.
The extreme weather events also spilled into neighboring countries Argentina and Paraguay where 100,000 people had been forced to evacuate.
In the run up to the USA’s opening match against Ghana on Monday (16th June), the coastal city of Natal where the match was played, had suffered two days of non stop rain prompting a waterlogged pitch. The city had been declared in a state of emergency on the Sunday and more rain are forecast to fall.
Brazil has already suffered its share of consequences due to climate change and while flooding is not uncommon in the South American country, it’s expected to increase as climate change intensities and deforestation, which is still happening on a mass scale in the Amazon rainforest, is not making the issue any better.
Brazil is one of the top favorites to win the World Cup and Brazilians and many pundits expect them to do so. But Brazilians know only too well that one force they can’t beat is that of mother nature and they will be hoping that she will bear with them at least to the end of the tournament.