Saturday, January 15, 2011

More deaths feared as rain continues in Brazil

Robin Yapp in the Vancouver Sun via the Daily Telegraph: The death toll from mudslides and flooding in Brazil stood at 550 and rising on Friday night amid fears further rain could claim many more lives this weekend. People were queuing in cars to leave towns in the mountainous area north of Rio de Janeiro as forecasters warned that even continuous light rain could send tons more mud cascading down saturated hillsides.

More than 13,500 people have been left homeless. "It will keep raining until at least next Wednesday in the Serrana region of Rio de Janeiro. We are predicting a light but steady rain, which could lay the conditions for more landslides," said Luiz Cavalcanti, the head of Brazil's national weather institute.

The return of rain hampered the third day of rescue efforts in the two worst affected towns, Nova Friburgo and Teresopolis on Friday.…The extent of the damage exposed major flaws in emergency planning and disaster prevention in a country that aspires to attain developed-nation status in coming years.

It also highlighted the huge challenges that new President Dilma Rousseff faces as she strives to upgrade Brazil's creaking infrastructure before it hosts soccer's World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics two years later…

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