Torrents of flood water devastated towns and villages in northeastern Brazil, killing at least 38 people and leaving more than 600 missing, media reports said on Tuesday.
Emergency officials in Alagoas and Pernambuco did not answer calls by Reuters early on Tuesday. They were reported as saying that 26 people had died in Alagoas, where there were also 607 people missing after the dam burst. In Pernambuco, 12 people were reported to have been killed.
"There are towns that look like an atomic bomb was dropped on them," the governor of Alagoas, Teotonio Vilela Filho, was quoted as saying by the O Globo newspaper. "We are praying that they are alive," the governor said of the missing people. "We are worried because bodies have started to wash ashore."
Images from Globo Television showed whole towns flattened by the raging waters. Overturned cars lay among debris of hundreds of shattered houses and railway tracks were torn apart by the force of the water.
The official Agencia Brasil news agency said that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva would hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday with federal and state official to determine the aid and rescue resources needed. (Reporting by Stuart Grudgings; editing by Mohammad Zargham)