Friday, January 14, 2011

Mudslides kill 525 in Brazil

Environment News Service: At least 527 people have lost their lives as mudslides brought down by weeks of rain struck three towns in the Serrana region of southeastern Brazil on Wednesday. The death toll is expected to rise when search and rescue teams reach remote villages cut off by the slides.
Brazilian officials are calling the rains the biggest climate tragedy in the country's history. Floods and mudslides have swept away entire neighborhoods in towns north of the city of Rio de Janeiro and the downpours continue.

Rivers burst their banks and raged through residential areas built on steep hillsides, washing away hundreds of homes. Some 13,000 people have been left homeless. Power and telephone services along with bridges and roads have been severed by the slides, making it difficult for authorities to assess the full extent of the disaster.

President Dilma Rousseff, accompanied by Defense Minister Nelson Jobim and Rio Governor Sergio Cabral, flew over the mountainous region on Thursday to view the damage. "It's very overwhelming. The scenes are shocking," she said. "We saw areas in which mountains untouched by men dissolved. But we also saw areas in which illegal occupation caused damage to the health and lives of people," she said….

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