The President of Portugal, Antonio Ramalho Eanes visited the Tagus River valley yesterday (4 March) to see for himself the area hit by the worst floods for 40 years.
GV PAN: flooded farmland (2 shots)
GV: President Ramalho Eanes in inflatable boat surveys floods past people looking out of balconies of flooded homes (3 shots)
SV AND GV: boat passes through flooded streets of Santarem
GV: President leaves boat and walks through crowds of flood victims.
LV: people rowing along tree-lined avenue.
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Background: The President of Portugal, Antonio Ramalho Eanes visited the Tagus River valley yesterday (4 March) to see for himself the area hit by the worst floods for 40 years.
SYNOPSIS: The Tagus area, like much of the rest of the country has suffered a nightmare week in which severe damage was done to the country's agricultural areas. Dozens of roads were flooded or made impassable, hundreds of homes were destroyed or damaged, and thousands of people were made homeless in Portugal's worst winter for 50 years.
With President Eanes on his inspection tour were government officials charged with co-ordinating rescue and relief operations. Air Force helicopters had been called in to lift stranded villagers and farmers from isolated areas, while many in the towns had to wait for the waters to subside. So far it has not been possible to assess the enormous cost of the flood damage.
One of the worst hit towns was Santarem, and industrial and farming town 50 miles (80 KM) north of Lisbon. Floods in that area have cut rail and road links between the north and south of the country and have caused the cancellation of services by the Paris-Lisbon express.
Although the damage in the towns is considerable, the loss of Portugal's farm production is particularly serious following a bad harvest last year. Already austerity measures have been introduced which include a sharp cut in imports including food -- which represents about 50 per cent to total imports.