Storms, floods kill 6 in southern Brazil

Severe floods triggered by torrential downpours have killed at least six people in southern Brazil and driven thousands from their homes.

The Civil Defense department in Santa Catarina state says the floods that began in mid-January have forced nearly 21,000 people to leave their homes and 71 cities to declare a state of emergency.

The department said in a statement Tuesday that four of the victims drowned, one was electrocuted by a loose power line and one was struck by lightning.

The floods come on the heels of the devastating downpours and mudslides that hit the mountainous region north of Rio de Janeiro last month, killing nearly 900 people.

In 2008, floods and mudslides killed more than 100 people and displaced 80,000 people in Santa Catarina.