Brazil

Mudslides kill dozens in Brazilian tourist area

Reuters/Luiza Garcia

Homes, roads and bridges in a mountainous area near Rio de Janeiro in Brazil have been swept away by mud and rocks, which have killed nearly 270 people. Officials say the death toll is likely to rise, as rescuers continued to help people in the area north of Rio known as the Serrana.

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At least three fire fighters were killed, covered in tons of mud, as they tried to carry out a rescue after tons of water fell on the region before dawn Wednesday.

The rain overflowed rivers and triggered mudslides. People, homes and cars were carried away.

Officials say this is the worst ever disaster for the Serrana, a tourist destination for Rio residents at this time of the year, during the summer.

Roads and bridges were destroyed, and entire neighbourhoods were swept away by rivers of mud in the municipalities of Nova Friburgo, Teresopolis and Petropolis.

The full extent of the devastation is difficult to know, because communication and access to the area is limited, and telephone service was cut in some areas.

President Dilma Rousseff, who took power less than two weeks ago, released 320 million euros in emergency aid for the region and is scheduled to fly over the disaster zone in a helicopter on Thursday.

The death toll on Wednesday reached at least 267, not including at least 13 people who died earlier in the week in Sao Paulo in the same storm that caused the mudslides.

More rain is forecast in the coming days.

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