Brazil Flood Deaths Rise To 432

In Americas, Floods & Storms, News Headlines

At least 432 people have died and dozens are missing after floods and landslides swept through mountain towns in southeastern Brazil.

Many homes were washed away as torrents of water and mud rushed down hillsides.

The Serrana mountain region, north of Rio, has seen a month’s rain in 24 hours.

Most of the deaths were recorded in the town of Nova Friburgo, about 90 miles north of Rio.

The town of Teresopolis, 40 miles north of Rio, saw at least 175 deaths since Wednesday.

There were also 17 people killed in another small town of Sumidouro, a television channel reported.

Officials warned the death toll, in what is now Brazil’s worst natural disaster in decades, was set to rise as rescue teams manage to reach the stricken towns.

Images from Teresopolis, home to 180,000 people, showed tonnes of mud and water crashing into homes and washing cars away.

“I’ve only ever seen this before on television. It’s like a horror film. Houses, cars were carried away by torrents of water,” said a 55-year-old woman called Angela.

“It was terrifying,”

“One woman tried to save her children but her two-month-old baby was carried away by a torrent like a doll.”

With many mountain towns and villages now swamped in dirt and debris, the death toll is expected to rise as rescue workers uncover more bodies.

“It’s a huge catastrophe, a major disaster,” Teresopolis mayor Jorge Mario told the GloboNews television station.

At least 39 people have died Petropolis, in the same mountain region.

At least three firefighters were among the dead in Nova Friburgo.

In a town neighbouring Teresopolis, firefighters rescued a 25-year-old man who held his six-month-old son for 15 hours until they were both pulled out alive.

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Television images showed one woman holding a dog in the ruins of her house as floodwaters pounded against the remaining walls.

She grabbed a rope thrown by residents from a nearby rooftop and was pulled to safety but had to drop the dog into the waters.

“There are so many disappeared – and so many that will probably never be found,” said Angela Marina de Carvalho Silva, a resident of Teresopolis who feared she may have lost 15 relatives, including five nieces and nephews.

“There was nothing we could do. It was hell,” she said.

President Dilma Rousseff was due to fly over the region on Thursday.

Brazil as a whole has suffered severe flooding this year, leaving thousands of people homeless.

Heavy rains earlier in the week killed 13 people in Sao Paulo state, raising the total death toll in southern Brazil to 432.

Hundreds of people die every year in flooding in the South American country, with the poor who live in vulnerable, poorly-constructed homes most affected.

Meanwhile, flooding in Queensland Australia has been described as the “worst natural disaster in the state’s history”, as the number of people killed hits 14 with 70 missing.

In Sri Lanka, one million people have also been displaced by monsoon rains and flooding, the government says.

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