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Brazil flooding death toll rises

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  • NEW: Authorities warn about health risks of flood-contaminated water, food
  • Floods in southern Brazil blamed for 112 deaths, state news agency says
  • 79,000 people homeless, 19 missing; landslides caused much of the damage
  • Brazilian president releases almost $1 billion in aid to affected areas
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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (CNN) -- The death toll from historic floods in southern Brazil continued to creep upward Monday, with 112 reported dead, the state news agency said.

People use a boat to navigate flooded streets in Santa Catarina, one of the areas hit hardest by flooding.

People make their way through floodwaters in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina last week.

Officials say 19 people remain missing and nearly 79,000 residents have been left homeless, according to the state-run Agencia Brasil. Many of the deaths have been caused by mudslides.

The city of Ilhota in the hard-hit state of Santa Catarina has recorded 37 fatalities, the most of any municipality, Agencia Brasil said.

In the city of Maximus in Luis Alves state, eight rescuers were injured over the weekend, one of them gravely, the news agency said.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Monday that Santa Catarina will be rebuilt and become just as strong as it was.

"We cannot lose hope," Lula said. "We must be convinced that people will reconstruct the state of Santa Catarina. There is a national solidarity never seen before in the history of the country."

Lula flew over some of the flooded areas last week and proclaimed the disaster one of the worst in the country's history.

"I've never seen anything like this," Lula said Thursday.

He said last week he was releasing 1.97 billion Reals (US$854 million) in aid to the affected areas, especially Santa Catarina.

Officials have distributed 880 tons of food, nearly 1 million liters of water and 60 tons of clothing, toys and cleaning and personal hygiene material, Agencia Brasil said Monday.

Authorities also were warning residents in flooded areas to be careful with food and water they consume. Food that has been under water or moist should not be eaten unless it's in a sealed plastic bag or a can, they said.

The health secretary for Santa Catarina also said residents who drink contaminated water run the risk of getting hepatitis A and diarrhea.

The disaster also is having an economic effect, with bridges, roads, houses and buildings destroyed. The federation of industries said the closed port in Itajai is costing $33 million a day.

The port is the major terminal for frozen goods in Brazil and second in the transport of containers, Agencia Brasil said.

Port Superintendent Arnaldo Schmitt said last week part of the terminal could be back in operation in two weeks.

All About BrazilFloodsNatural DisastersLuiz Inacio Lula da Silva

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