Death toll rises in Brazil due to heavy rains and flooding

Brazil-flood

Important Takeaways:

  • The death toll from heavy rains in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul state rose to 143, up from 136 on the day before, the local civil defense government body said on Sunday, as rains continue to pour on the state.
  • Another 125 people remain unaccounted for in the state, where rivers are reporting rising levels. Weather service Metsul called the situation “extremely worrying.”
  • On Saturday evening the government announced around 12.1 billion reais ($2.34 billion) in emergency spending to deal with the crisis that has displaced more than 538,000 people in the state, out of a population of around 10.9 million.
  • With this new money, more than 60 billion reais in federal funds has already been made available to the state, said the federal government in a statement on Saturday.
  • Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the state will rebuild what was destroyed.

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Flood-hit Brazil braces for more; nearly 2 million people affected

Horse-stranded-on-roof

Important Takeaways:

  • People in southern Brazil, already reeling from deadly floods, are bracing for more disruption as meteorologists warned of 12 straight hours of heavy rain Friday and more throughout the weekend.
  • The storms have affected more than 1.9 million people in Brazil, and displaced hundreds of thousands, many of whom are staying in temporary shelters. Over 140 people are still missing.
  • Scenes of the devastating weather event have been beamed all over the world, including video footage of a horse that had to be rescued after being stranded for several days on a rooftop.
  • Uruguay has also been flooded by the storms. More than 1,300 people there have been displaced there, while thousands more are without electricity

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Hydroelectric dam collapsed in southern Brazil triggered massive flooding, killing more than 30

Brazil-Floods

Important Takeaways:

  • Brazil floods: Dam collapses and death toll rises in Rio Grande do Sul
  • Officials say another 60 people are missing in Rio Grande do Sul state.
  • About 15,000 residents have fled their homes since Saturday. At least 500,000 people are without power and clean water across the state.
  • The burst dam triggered a 6.6ft wave, causing panic and further damage in the already flooded areas.

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Russia, China, India, and South Africa aim to reduce reliance on the US dollar

Money-is-Trash

Important Takeaways:

  • Russia calls on BRICS to ditch dollar
  • The statement was made at the Russia-China Financial Dialogue forum in Beijing on Monday, where Siluanov met with his Chinese counterpart, Lan Foan.
  • The BRICS group of emerging economies – which currently incorporates Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – has been discussing ways to facilitate payments in local currencies between member countries. The bloc aims to reduce their reliance on the US dollar and the euro for accelerated growth.
  • “We need to further develop financial cooperation within the BRICS countries. Here we see opportunities … to develop a payments system that would be independent of the infrastructure, which does not always fully fulfill the goals of individual countries,” Siluanov stated.
  • “Therefore, the sustainable development of financial relations and settlements on the BRICS platform is important for us, and we believe that it is necessary to work out such issues, and today we will consider a number of them,” he added.

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CDC and World Health are concerned over woman in Brazil dying from Swine Flu

Luke 21:11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

Important Takeaways:

  • Brazilian woman dies of SWINE FLU: Fatality sparks terror and CDC investigation
  • US health chiefs are investigating the death of a Brazilian woman who became a rare victim of swine flu.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials plan to probe samples collected from the patient, 42, who died from an H1N1 variant spreading in pigs.
  • Her death earlier last month has sparked concern because she had no direct contact with pigs — which may signal onward transmission from someone else.
  • Scientists are concerned that the next pandemic could come from flu viruses — such as H1N1 — which can be spread by pigs.
  • In 2009 the world faced a swine flu pandemic after an H1N1 subtype killed up to 575,000 people globally.
  • A spokesman for the WHO said: ‘Based on the information currently available, the WHO considers this is a sporadic case, and there is no evidence of person-to-person transmission of this event.’

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A months’ worth of rain has brought flooding and mudslides to Petropolis Brazil

Important Takeaways:

  • Death toll in Brazil’s Petropolis mudslides, floods hits 176; more than 110 missing
  • Downpours in the colonial-era city exceeded the average for the entire month of February causing mudslides that flooded streets, destroyed houses, washed away cars and buses, and left gashes hundreds of yards wide on the region’s mountainsides.
  • rainfall was the heaviest registered since 1932 in Petropolis, a tourist destination in the hills of Rio de Janeiro state, popularly known as the “Imperial City”
  • Responding to the disaster, several Brazilian states sent reinforcements to help searching for missing people and cleaning up the debris alongside Rio’s fire department.

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Death toll from Brazil flooding rises in Bahia’s ‘worst disaster’ ever

By Leonardo Benassatto and Sergio Queiroz

ITABUNA, Brazil (Reuters) – The death toll from floods hammering northeast Brazil rose to 20 on Monday, as the governor of Bahia state declared it the worst disaster in the state’s history and rescuers braced for more rain in the coming days.

Much of Bahia, home to about 15 million people, has suffered from intermittent flooding for weeks, after a long drought gave way to record rains. Flooding in some areas intensified late on Christmas Eve and early on Christmas Day after a pair of dams gave way, sending residents scrambling for higher ground.

Rescue workers patrolled in small dinghies around the city of Itabuna, in southern Bahia, plucking residents from their homes, including some who escaped through second-floor windows.

Bahia Governor Rui Costa said on Twitter that 72 municipalities were in a state of emergency.

“Unfortunately, we’re living through the worst disaster that has ever occurred in the history of Bahia,” he wrote.

Manfredo Santana, a lieutenant-colonel in Bahia’s firefighting corps, told Reuters that emergency workers had rescued 200 people in just three nearby towns. The heavy currents of the swollen Cachoeira River complicated rescue efforts.

“It’s difficult to maneuver even with jet skis,” he said. “Rescue teams had to retreat in certain moments.”

Bahia’s civil defense agency said on Monday afternoon that 20 people had died in 11 separate municipalities.

Newspaper O Globo, citing a state firefighting official, said that authorities are monitoring an additional 10 dams for any signs they may collapse.

The scrutiny of public infrastructure and urban planning comes just a couple years after the collapse of a mining dam in neighboring Minas Gerais state killed some 270 people.

In televised remarks, Costa, the Bahia governor, attributed the chaotic scenes in part to “errors that have been committed over the course of years.”

(Reporting by Leonardo Benassatto; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Alistair Bell)

Brazil in recession as drought, inflation and interest rates bite

By Marcela Ayres and Camila Moreira

BRASILIA (Reuters) -Brazil’s economy contracted slightly in the three months to September, government data showed on Thursday, as surging inflation, steep interest rate hikes and a severe drought triggered a recession in Latin America’s largest economy.

The 0.1% decline in Brazil’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter, reported by official statistics agency IBGE, was below a median forecast for zero growth in a Reuters poll.

Brazil’s economic rebound from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic has sputtered as inflation surged into double digits, forcing the central bank to raise borrowing costs aggressively despite the downturn.

Economists have said that the stubbornly high levels of inflation in Brazil have steadily eroded consumers’ purchasing power, proving a drag on the economy.

Some analysts said Thursday’s weak data may discourage the bank’s monetary policy committee, called Copom, from an even larger interest rate increase at its December meeting.

“Against this backdrop, we no longer see Copom upping the pace of monetary tightening next week,” William Jackson, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, told clients in a note, forecasting another rate increase of 150 basis points.

Big rate hikes from the central bank, whose autonomy was written into Brazil’s constitution this year, are one more headwind for a weak economy, which is weighing on President Jair Bolsonaro’s popularity as he prepares to seek reelection in 2022.

Revised data showed a 0.4% drop in the second quarter, worse than the 0.1% decline reported previously. Two straight quarters of contraction meet the definition of a recession.

Unusually dry weather this year has also hurt key Brazilian crops such as corn and coffee. Vanishing reserves at hydropower dams drove up electricity costs, adding to price shocks.

Agricultural production fell 8.0% in the third quarter, while industrial output was flat and services advanced 1.1%.

Brazil’s auto industry has struggled to ramp up production amid a shortage of components such as microchips in global supply chains. Shortages have also hurt manufacturing in Mexico, whose economy contracted more than expected in the quarter.

WORSE TO COME

Some economists are warning of a deeper downturn next year.

The market outlook for 2022 economic growth has fallen from 2.3% in June to less than 0.6% in the latest central bank poll of economists, released on Monday.

Brazil’s Economy Ministry dismissed that consensus in a statement on Thursday, reaffirming its forecast of economic growth above 2% next year and pointing to recent job creation data as evidence of a resilient recovery.

Brazil’s unemployment rate fell to 12.6% in the third quarter from 14.2% in the prior quarter, data showed this week, hitting the lowest point since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The government has an obvious bias to overestimate (growth) as long as possible. But there comes a point when you can’t,” said José Francisco Gonçalves, chief economist at Banco Fator.

Compared to the third quarter of 2020, Brazil’s economy grew 4.0%, IBGE data showed, below a median forecast of 4.2% growth.

(Reporting by Marcela Ayres in Brasilia and Camila Moreira in Sao Paulo; Writing by Brad Haynes; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Daniel Flynn and Richard Chang)

 

Exclusive: Major coffee buyers face losses as Colombia farmers fail to deliver

By Maytaal Angel

LONDON (Reuters) – Coffee farmers in Colombia, the world’s No. 2 arabica producer, have failed to deliver up to 1 million bags of beans this year or nearly 10% of the country’s crop, leaving exporters, traders and roasters facing steep losses, industry sources told Reuters.

World coffee prices have soared 55% this year, mainly due to adverse weather in top producer Brazil, prompting Colombian farmers to default on sales clinched when prices were much lower in order to re-sell the coffee at higher rates.

“Traders are getting defaulted on, it’s a mess. If drought continues (in Brazil), 300 cents (per lb. of coffee) is possible. It’s going to be mayhem,” said a dealer at a global agricultural commodities trade house.

He said leading global roasters are planning to change the branding on their ‘single origin Colombia’ coffees due to sourcing problems.

Delivery defaults in a major producer like Colombia can exacerbate price spikes on world markets, although these would be temporary because the coffee ultimately exists and will weigh on markets once it is re-sold.

Colombian farmers say they will deliver the coffee later this year or next but buyers are unconvinced.

Many are opting to see losses now and write the purchases off as defaults rather than wait and risk even bigger losses if farmers still don’t deliver next year and prices rise further, according to a senior trader at another global trade house.

He said several global trade houses are looking at losses of $8-10 million each on undelivered coffee, while Colombia’s coffee growers federation FNC, which represents farmers but also accounts for 20% of the country’s 12.5 million bags of annual coffee exports, faces higher losses.

TAKING THE HIT

“There was easily 1 million bags of forward (Colombian coffee sales) done before the market started rallying mid-May,” said the senior trader. “If you work for a multinational (trade house) your boss will say come on, we have to take the hit.”

Delivery defaults in a rallying coffee market are a huge issue for commodity exporters and traders who often hedge physical purchases by taking short positions in the futures market, causing them to sustain steep losses as prices rise.

Usually, traders would be able to sell the physical coffee they are owed at current lofty rates in order to offset their futures market loss, but in the case of a default, they can’t.

Defaults can also force traders to purchase supplies pre-sold to roasters at a loss in the pricey spot market.

FNC head Roberto Velez confirmed to Reuters that Colombia is facing widespread defaults.

“I can tell you there are few Colombian exporters not suffering (from defaults). All the major trade houses and also the federation as a major exporter, we’re all suffering (losses),” he said.

“When a grower doesn’t deliver, the whole chain gets stuck losing money,” he added.

Traders told Reuters the federation has given Colombian farmers at least another year to deliver the coffee – a move that could force the industry body to approach the government for bail-out funds if the farmers still don’t deliver in time.

MOUNTING LOSSES

A senior Columbia-based coffee trader with Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) left the company in the wake of losses, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

LDC said it does not comment on organizational changes except in relation to executives.

“Companies will be in trouble with (the scale of the losses), big guys will change their team, but smaller guys will go bankrupt,” said a senior trader.

He added major local Colombian exporter La Meseta has been hard hit by farmer defaults and is struggling to make good on its supply deals with international roasters, leaving them exposed to losses.

La Meseta did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

Selling coffee forward in Colombia has become popular in the last few years, but up until this year, the move had mostly worked out in favor of farmers as world prices drifted lower so farmers received better prices for their coffee on delivery, not worse.

About 550,000 Colombian families make their living growing coffee and the Andean country is the largest producer of the washed arabica grade on which benchmark futures contracts on the ICE exchange are based.

(Reporting by Maytaal Angel in London; Additional reporting by Oliver Griffin and Julia Symmes Cobb; in Bogota; Editing by David Gaffen, Veronica Brown and Susan Fenton)

Pfizer study to vaccinate whole Brazilian town against COVID-19

BRASILIA (Reuters) -Pfizer Inc will study the effectiveness of its vaccine against COVID-19 by inoculating the whole population over the age of 12 in a town in southern Brazil, the company said on Wednesday.

The study will be conducted in Toledo, population 143,000, in the west of Parana state, together with Brazil’s National Vaccination Program, local health authorities, a hospital and a federal university.

Pfizer said the purpose was to study transmission of the coronavirus in a “real-life scenario” after the population has been vaccinated.

“The initiative is the first and only of its kind to be undertaken in collaboration with the pharmaceutical company in a developing country,” Pfizer said.

A similar study was conducted by the Butantan Institute, one of Brazil’s leading biomedical research centers, in the smaller town of Serrana, in Sao Paulo state, to test the CoronaVac shot developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.

In May, Butantan said mass vaccination had reduced COVID-19 death by 95% in the town with a population of 45,644 people. The institute is considering extending the study for a third dose.

“Here we believe in science and we lament the almost 600,000 deaths from COVID-19 in Brazil,” Toledo Mayor Beto Lunitti said at a news conference announcing the Pfizer study.

Regis Goulart, a researcher at Toledo’s Moinhos de Vento Hospital, said its aim was to validate the real-world efficacy and safety of the vaccine seen in clinical trials.

The observational study will also be an opportunity to do long-term monitoring for up to one year of participants and to answer lingering questions such as the duration of vaccine protection against COVID-19 and new variants, Goulart said.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Porter)