The heaviest rain in decades has caused landslides and flooding that has killed at least 95 people in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro. Hundreds of shacks in Rio's hillside shanty towns have been swept away by hundreds of separate mudslides triggered by 24-hour torrential rains which started on Monday. The victims included a five-month-old baby and a nine-year-old child, officials said.Many other neighbourhoods were left without power and transport by the downpour – the worst recoded in Brazil in 30 years. The south American country’s second largest city of six million people is due to host the 2014 football World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
Officials have called the disaster a state of emergency and warned the death toll may rise as many more are missing. Rescue teams have been searching the city's hillsides to find missing people and find bodies buried under the mud. "The situation is chaos. Roads are flooded and blocked," said Mayor Eduardo Paes. "We recommend people stay at home." Mr Paes described the city’s preparedness for heavy rainfall as "less than zero". The mayor said that least 26 people had died in the Rio metropolitan area, while he fire service said a total of 89 people were killed across the state. Mr Paes said that 10,000 houses are still at risk, mostly in the favelas, or shanty towns where about a fifth of Rio's people live, often in wobbly makeshift shacks, vulnerable to heavy rains. State governor Sergio Cabral advised people in high-risk areas to leave their homes. Speaking on TV Globo, he said to stay inside would be "irresponsible" given the risk of new landslides.
Paulo Marqueiro, a reporter for O Globo newspaper said it was like the city had "collapsed". It had started raining during the 5pm rush hour on Monday, said Antonio Queiroz Junior. "It hasn't stopped raining since then," he told the BBC. "This is the worst storm in decades." He added: "The city has been abandoned by our government. The current situation is unacceptable, with so many people getting killed because of the rain. "Everybody knows the danger of living in the hills, and the government does nothing to stop more and more people building houses there." In January, at least 39 people were killed by mudslides in the resort area of Angra dos Reis, half way between Rio de Janeiro and Santos. Rio has had an exceptionally hot and rainy summer this year. The head of Rio de Janeiro's civil defence department told TV Globo the amount of rain that had fallen in the past few days was "more than any city is capable of supporting".
By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children