Vlademir Alexandre  /  AP
This area of Brazil's Rio Grande do Norte state was among those flooded by recent rains.
updated 4/8/2008 11:46:06 AM ET 2008-04-08T15:46:06

Floods and mudslides have killed 21 people and driven 82,000 from their homes in Brazil's normally arid northeast since March 30, civil defense officials said Monday.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed an executive order releasing $360 million to help flood victims and repair damages to roads and bridges on Friday. Governors of the six states affected by flooding met with him Monday in Brasilia to request aid.

Seventeen of the dead drowned in the state of Paraiba, where 14,000 have abandoned their homes to escape floods, officials said.

In Maranhao state, three people drowned and 30,000 sought shelter in public buildings or relatives' homes. One man was swept away and drowned as he tried to cross a small river in Pernambuco state, where 4,350 people have been left homeless, civil defense officials from each state said.

The rains also forced more than 33,600 people to evacuate their homes in Rio Grande do Norte, Piaui and Ceara states, officials said.

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