Brazil to create disaster-prevention system

BRASILIA, Brazil  — Brazil will create a nationwide disaster-prevention and early-warning system following recent floods and landslides that killed more than 750 people in mountain towns north of Rio de Janeiro, government officials said Thursday.
The government also will invest $6.7 billion through 2014 in water-drainage and hillside-recovery projects across the country in an effort to prevent future flooding and slides, Planning Minister Miriam Belchior said.
"We will prioritize those places where experts say the problems are most serious," Belchior said, according to a statement issued by the office of President Dilma Rousseff.
Belchior said that $5.9 billion will be used for drainage projects and the rest for the hillside-stabilization projects. Half of the total funding will be made available to municipalities that submit plans for ongoing projects.
A new alert system, expected to be fully operational in four years, will use 15 radars and a recently purchased supercomputer to help forecast and monitor extreme weather conditions, giving authorities enough time to evacuate people from high-risk areas, said Science and Technology Minister Aloizio Mercadante.
Speaking in an interview with radio reporters that was aired on the government's website, Mercadante said officials have not yet calculated how much the system will cost.