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Friday, January 14, 2011

Brazil flood death toll rises to 500+ rescuers battle floods

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Brazil death toll rises as rescuers battle floods


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By Sergio Queiroz and Stuart Grudgings Sergio Queiroz And Stuart Grudgings Fri Jan 14, 2011
TERESOPOLIS, Brazil (Reuters) – The death toll from massive flooding and landslides in Brazil topped 500 on Friday as renewed rainfall threatened to complicate efforts by rescue teams to reach survivors trapped in isolated areas.
In one of the country's worst natural disasters, rivers of mud tore through towns in the mountainous Serrana region outside Rio de Janeiro, leveling houses, throwing cars atop buildings and leaving thousands of people seeking shelter.
The flooding killed at least 529 people, according to local and state authorities, but rescuers are uncovering more victims buried under wrecked homes and toppled buildings. More than 13,500 people have been left homeless.
Emergency teams have to reach the worst-hit areas on foot and dig through the rubble by hand to find survivors because vehicles and heavy equipment still cannot cross blocked roads, the O Globo television news network reported.
The state of Rio de Janeiro sent military police to maintain order in the area after reports food had been looted from stores.
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