The death toll from heavy rains that have battered the Brazilian state of Bahia since November has risen to 18 while 35,000 people have been displaced.

As the crisis rages on, two people remain missing while 286 people have been injured since the start of the downpours.

Authorities estimate that more than 430,800 people in total have been impacted as the situation has only worsened in recent days.

"It's an enormous tragedy," said Governor Rui Costa, who surveyed the damaged areas by plane yesterday.

"I don't remember something of this dimension in Bahia's recent history.

"The number of homes, streets and towns completely under water is truly terrifying."

Amid incessant torrents of rain, Bahia firefighters confirmed the death of a 60-year-old man who drowned in a river in the south of the state.

A total of 19,580 have been displaced and another 16,001 forced to seek shelter which brought the number of people driven from their homes to 35,000, the Bahia civil protection agency Sudec said.

By the same afternoon, the number of local municipalities in a state of emergency had risen to 72, of which 58 are in crisis due to flooding.

A joint operation of federal and state emergency services has been mobilised since Saturday to rescue thousands of residents trapped by the flooding.