Hundreds die in mudslides near Rio de Janeiro
Issued on: Modified:
Mudslides have destroyed towns and roads near Rio de Janeiro, killing more than 500 people, in what is said to be Brazil’s worst ever natural disaster.
Torrential rains on Wednesday sent mudslides slicing through villages, roads, cutting off power and telephone lines. The worst affected towns were Novo Friburgo and Teresopolis, north of Rio de Janeiro, which recorded more than 220 deaths each.
It is feared more bodies are yet to be found by rescuers who have just arrived in villages that were cut off by the storms.
Churches and police stations were turned into makeshift morgues, the smell of decomposing corpses heavy in the warm air. Thousands of survivors took refuge in shelters.
"It's very overwhelming. The scenes are very shocking," President Dilma Rousseff said after visiting the area Thursday. The disaster is seen as a major test for Rousseff who took over power from her very popular predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva only two weeks ago.
Those made homeless by the mudslides fear that the worst is yet to come, as more heavy rains are expected over the weekend.
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe