News / Americas

Rio State Governor: Deadly Mudslides a 'Catastrophe'

Rescuers in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro are working to find some 200 people feared dead after a mudslide sparked by heavy rain hit a slum in the city of Niteroi, burying about 60 homes.

Officials say the homes were unstable because they were built on an old landfill where trash had accumulated for years.  The mudslide swept through the area late Wednesday.  

State Governor Sergio Cabral called the event a human and environmental catastrophe.

Some people were pulled out alive Thursday, but rescuers say there is little chance of finding more survivors.  Several bodies were recovered Thursday.    

Days of record rainfall that started Monday triggered deadly flooding and mudslides throughout the state.  More than 180 people are confirmed dead.

On Thursday, Brazilian officials announced an emergency fund of $112 million to help Rio state cope with the disaster.  Thousands of people have been left homeless.

Officials say nearly 30 centimeters of rain had fallen in the city of Rio de Janeiro in a 24-hour period.

The mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes, urged people to stay at home and off the streets, while state Governor Cabral on Wednesday called for three days of mourning.

Rio de Janeiro will host World Cup soccer (football) matches in 2014 and the Summer Olympic Games in 2016.

Heavy rains in December and January triggered flooding and mudslides that killed dozens of people in Rio state, including 10 who died when a mudslide struck a resort hotel.

 

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

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