A severe drought has pushed river levels in Brazil’s Amazon region to record lows, scientists say, is an expected result of global warming, leaving isolated communities dependent on emergency aid and thousands of boats stranded on parched riverbeds.
The level of the dark Rio Negro, a tributary to the Amazonas river and itself the world’s largest black-water river, fell to 13.63 meters (45 feet) on Sunday, its lowest since records began in 1902, according to the Brazilian Geological Service.
“People are lacking food because fish are dying in the warm waters. Nearly all boats are grounded — only the smallest ones can navigate the waters,” said Rosival Dias, a coordinator with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation environmental group who has visited affected areas.
“I’ve worked in the region about 30 years and never seen anything like the last few years. This has everything to do with climate change
Amazonas state says the emergency has affected 62,000 people in 38 municipal areas, and that 600 tonnes of food aid has been distributed by plane and boat. The Brazilian government announced last week it was releasing 23 million reais ($13.5 million) in emergency aid.
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