A floating village is now stranded on the edge of a lake in the Brazilian Amazon, as a severe drought leaves communities struggling to access food, fresh water and fuel.
The dramatic drop in water levels at Lake Puraquequara, east of Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, has left boats and floating buildings abandoned in the mud.
It’s the latest example of the devastating effects of heat and drought in this part of Brazil – earlier this month, more than a hundred river dolphins washed up dead as temperatures rose Water was soaring – and authorities say the situation is about to get worse.
Lake Puraquequara is part of the Rio Negro river system, which has been near a record level since late September, according to state civil protection authorities. “Lower water levels are having a profound impact,” an authority spokesperson told CNN.
Some residents dug wells in the cracked lake bed to try to access water.
“Our stores have no customers. “We are isolated, boats cannot enter or leave the lake,” said Isaac Rodrigues, a local resident. told Reuters. “We will be here until God sends us water.”
Severe drought extends across the state. Forty-two municipalities out of the state’s 62 are in an emergency situation, with more than 300,000 people affected, civil protection told CNN on Monday.
And the situation is expected to get worse. Around 500,000 people and 50 municipalities are expected to be affected in the coming weeks, “since we expect a few more months of reduced precipitation”, said the spokesperson for the state authority.
At the end of September, the governor of Amazonas. Wilson Lima declared a state of emergency and announced a package of relief measures, including providing food to those most affected by the drought.
“Many people already struggle to access food, food security, clean water and other important inputs,” he said in a statement. statement at the time.
The drought is also devastating the wildlife of the state’s rivers.
Scientists believe the unusual deaths of more than 100 dolphins in Lake Tefé, west of Manaus, in early October could be linked to extremely high water temperatures.
“It is still early to determine the cause of this extreme event, but according to our experts, it is certainly linked to the dry period and the high temperatures of Lake Tefé, some points of which exceed 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit)” , specifies the press release. ” the institute said in comments broadcast by CNN Brazil affiliate.
It is currently the dry season in the Amazon, but the drought has been exacerbated by El Niño, a natural climate phenomenon that originates in the tropical Pacific Ocean and affects weather patterns around the world.
At the root of El Niño is the long-term trend of global warming that leads to more frequent and severe extreme weather events, such as drought and heat.
Swathes of South America, including Brazil, have been hit by intense, deadly heat as the region transitions from winter to spring.
This heat in August and September – during which Brazil experienced temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) – was made at least 100 times more likely by the man-made climate crisis, according to a study published Tuesday by the World Weather Attribution initiative.