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Brazil Fears More Deaths as Rain Continues


Wearing face masks to prevent infection, people carry a coffin containing the body of a landslide victim at a cemetery in Nova Friburgo, Brazil, 15 Jan 2011

Wearing face masks to prevent infection, people carry a coffin containing the body of a landslide victim at a cemetery in Nova Friburgo, Brazil, 15 Jan 2011

The death toll from massive flooding and mudslides in Brazil has risen to at least 605 people, and many more are feared dead in remote areas where rescuers have not yet reached.

The continued bad weather has hampered rescuers' efforts to reach people stranded on remote hillsides in the affected region, north of Rio de Janeiro. Countless bodies remain buried under mud and debris.

And the country fears more rain could cause additional deadly mudslides in the coming days.

Survivors are criticizing authorities for not providing enough help. The situation is being described as one of the country's worst natural disasters.

Storms earlier this week dumped the equivalent of a month's rain on the mountainous region.

Rivers of mud leveled houses, threw cars on top of buildings and left some 14,000 people homeless.

The hardest hit towns were Teresopolis and Nova Friburgo. Deaths also occurred in Petropolis and Sumidouro. Many of the dead are children.

The government has allocated some $460 million in emergency aid for the affected areas. President Dilma Rousseff, who assumed office January 1, visited the disaster zone on Thursday.

Landslides and floods are common in Brazil, often affecting poor communities with shacks built on steep, unstable hillsides.

In January of last year, more than 50 people died in mudslides in the beach town of Angra dos Reis, and at least 180 people died in landslides last April that devastated slum communities in Rio.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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