Floods and mudslides kill at least 64 in Brazil

BRAZIL was last night bracing itself for more of the heavy rain that has already killed at least 64 people in mudslides and floods.

Officials in Rio de Janeiro state yesterday said they also expected the death toll to rise from a series of weather-related building collapses last week.

Twenty-two bodies were recovered after a hotel and some homes were buried under mud in the beach resort of Angra dos Reis, one of Brazil's most exclusive tourism destinations on Friday.

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Television footage showed the Sankay Hotel and a number of homes in Angra under a mountain of mud.

Rescue teams, aided by helicopters and navy boats, admitted they were struggling to reach the area.

Civil defence authorities said about 40 people were registered at the hotel. They said heavy rains forecast for the coming days could hamper rescue efforts and trigger more mudslides.

A spokesman said: "Rescue crews told us there is just so much mud and water there which, coupled with that fact that the site is one of very difficult access, force them to remove all the mud manually, basically, without the aid of heavy equipment."

At least another 19 people died on Thursday after a heavy downpour that triggered mudslides and floods across Rio state, Brazil's third most populous.

Rio has Brazil's biggest oil reserves and is a top tourism destination. Angra, the Ilha Grande island and other cities on the coast are often visited by foreigners at this time of the year.

President Luiz Inacio da Silva has offered navy patrols to help speed up rescue efforts, state vice-governor Luiz Fernando Pezao told GloboNews television channel.

Intense rainfall also triggered mudslides along some points of the Rio-Santos highway, with traffic halted near the historic city of Paraty. Local media said that most of the deaths in prior days occurred as shacks in some poor areas collapsed.