MANAUS, Brazil – The severe drought in the Brazilian Amazon region, where large rivers have dropped to extremely low levels and electricity in this parched area is in short supply, has created a crisis in the country’s northern states, authorities said Saturday.
The Western Amazon River Authority said that navigation of rivers in the region, such as the Solimoes and the Rio Negro, has been impeded by the low water levels, while state oil company Petrobras faces problems of shipping out its production of crude and natural gas.
Petrobras has had to halt some tankers on the Rio Negro and the Solimoes until those rivers again become navigable and the navy authorizes ships to sail on to the oil fields.
This scenario contrasts with what happened several months ago, when the region was drenched by powerful downpours and the consequent flooding that for days put a number of cities in a state of emergency.
The lakes of Aleixo and Puraquequara near the Solimoes River in the metropolitan region of Manaus, capital of Amazonas state and the largest city of the region, are almost dry, causing environmental damage and putting the region’s fishermen out of business.
Some seaplanes that use these lakes to take off and land are currently stranded.
Inhabitants of the Manaus area told EFE that electricity has been cut off without warning, to the detriment of local production that depends on air conditioning and refrigeration.
The supply of products that arrive by river to Manaus has dwindled due to the low level of tributaries to the Amazon, while the shipping of merchandise from the duty-free zone has to be done by air, which will increase costs to consumers.
In the neighboring state of Acre, high temperatures and power cuts this week caused the death of at least 12,000 chickens that could not support the intense 45 C (113 F) heat.