Floods and mudslides triggered by non-stop rain have killed at least 76 people and left dozens more missing in southern Brazil.Twenty-eight people died in a luxury hotel nestled at the foot of a jungle-covered hill. Another 17 people were killed in the centre of the stricken seaside town of Angra, 93 miles south of Rio de Janeiro. Six people from the same family were missing after a mudslide hit their house in the town of Cunha in Sao Paulo state, authorities said.More than 4,000 people across Rio de Janeiro state had to flee their homes, Civil Defense officials said.
Rio de Janeiro's vice governor, Luiz Fernando Pezao, told Globo TV the death toll could rise. "People had never seen so much rain in this region. We'll have to wait for the rescue efforts, but we'll likely encounter a very sad outcome." Nearly 80 mudslides have been reported throughout south east Brazil in the past week.Two nuclear plants close by may shut down as a precaution, the mayor said. "There are no operational problems at Angra I and Angra II... but if landslides persist in the hills, we'll need to shut them down," Mayor Tuca Jordao told a press conference.
Yesterday (Sunday) rescue workers continued their search for victims among the mud and rubble at the Hotel Sankay, which catered to Brazilian and foreign tourists looking for a remote beachside hideaway. About 40 guests were staying at the hotel when the landslide hit. Today emergency crews were using heavy equipment, shovels and their bare hands to recover bodies from devastated parts of the state and two neighbouring states after days of torrential downpours. With more warnings of heavy rain, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva interrupted his vacation for an emergency meeting with civil defence officials.
Angra’s Mayor, Tuco Jordao said he requested the two nuclear plants be shut down warning that in case of a catastrophe there was no way to quickly evacuate the city's more than 35,000 inhabitants, since the main road leading out is partly blocked by landslides. The closures would not affect electricity supplies to Rio de Janeiro, which has alternative power sources, the company running the plants said. Jordao has also told local residents about emergency evacuation plans. "This summer high rainfall levels have been forecast. To the people of Angra dos Reis: please, at the slightest sign of rain" abandon your homes, he said.
By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children