Pope Francis today prayed for flood victims in Brazil, where areas have been hard hit in recent weeks, causing multiple deaths.
The Holy Father’s thought for Brazil came after he prayed the noonday Angelus with the crowd of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square and joint via media from around the world.
“I express my nearness to the people hit by strong rain and flooding in various regions of Brazil during these past weeks,” Pope Francis said. “I am especially praying for the victims and their families, and for those who have lost their homes. May God sustain the efforts of those who are providing relief.”
Over the past two months, heavy rains have hit several Brazilian towns in the states of Bahia and Minas Gerais, resulting in numerous deaths and tens of thousands of displaced. Landslides and rising river waters have caused some of the worst incidents, while emergency officials are monitoring area dams under pressure. Relief efforts are underway in the areas worst affected.
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, Reuters reported.
Bahia is one of the 26 states of Brazil, located in the Northeast Region of the country. It is the fourth-largest Brazilian state by population (after São Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro) and the 5th-largest by area. Bahia’s capital is the city of Salvador (formerly known as “Cidade do São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos”, literally “City of the Saint Savior of the Bay of All the Saints”), on a spit of land separating the Bay of All Saints from the Atlantic. Once a monarchial stronghold dominated by agricultural, slaving, and ranching interests, Bahia is now a predominantly working-class industrial and agricultural state. The state is home to 7% of the Brazilian population and produces 4.2% of the country’s GDP.