A floating village now lies stranded on a lake bed in the Brazilian Amazon as a severe drought leaves communities struggling to access food, fresh water and fuel.
The drastic drop in water level in Lake Puraquequara, east of Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, has left floating boats and 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 ashore when water temperatures soared) and authorities say the situation will get worse.
Lake Puraquequara is part of the Río Negro river system, which has been near its lowest level since late September, according to the state’s civil defense authority. “Declining water levels are having a profound impact,” an authority spokesperson told CNN.
Some residents have resorted to digging wells in the cracked lake bed in an attempt to reach water.
“Our stores have no customers. We are isolated, boats cannot enter or leave the lake,” said local resident Isaac Rodrigues. told Reuters. “We are going to be here until God sends us water.”
The severe drought spreads throughout the state. Forty-two of the state’s 62 municipalities were in an emergency situation with more than 300,000 people affected, the civil defense authority told CNN on Monday.
And the situation is expected to get worse. It is likely that in the coming weeks some 500,000 people and 50 municipalities will be affected, “since we still anticipate some months with reduced rainfall levels,” said the spokesperson for the state authority.
In late September, Amazonas Governor Wilson Lima declared a state of emergency and announced a package of relief measures, including providing food to those most affected by the drought.
“There are many people who already have difficulties accessing food, food security, drinking water and other important supplies,” he said in a statement. statement At the time.
The drought is also devastating wildlife in the state’s rivers.
Scientists believe the unusual death of more than 100 dolphins in Lake Tefé, west of Manaus, in early October may be linked to the scorching water temperatures.
“It is still early to determine the cause of this extreme phenomenon, but according to our experts, it is undoubtedly related to the period of drought and high temperatures in Lake Tefé, in which some points exceed 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit ),” he added. the institute said in comments published by CNN Brazil affiliate CNN Brazil.
It is currently the dry season in the Amazon, but the drought has been exacerbated by El Niño, a natural weather pattern that originates in the tropical Pacific Ocean and affects climate around the world.
Behind El Niño is the long-term trend of global warming that is causing more frequent and more severe extreme weather events, such as droughts and heat.
Large areas of South America, including Brazil, have been hit by severe and 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 due to the man-made climate crisis, according to a study published on Tuesday by the World Weather Attribution initiative.