Hopes are fading as rescuers today carried on their search for people buried by landslides near Rio de Janeiro as more than 380 people are now feared to have died in Brazil's worst rains in decades. The heaviest rains in more than 40 years triggered nearly 200 mudslides on Monday, burying shacks in hillside shanty towns, causing most of the deaths and leaving thousands of people homeless.
At least 10,000 houses still are at risk of collapse, and 14,000 people have been forced to flee their homes say authorities.
Last night, rescuers dragged 17 bodies from the mud after part of a hillside collapsed sliding onto a shantytown built on a landfill site near Rio de Janeiro, burying 200 people. But their in Niteroi's Morro do Bumba shantytown effort failed to find any survivors.Besides the 200 buried in the mudslide, at least 182 people have been killed across Rio de Janeiro. Masses of earth poured through the area's ramshackle hillside shanties, or favelas, hitting Niteroi hardest with at least 107 dead.The mayor of Rio appealed to the Brazilian government for more than £135 million in aid for emergency operations. "Our main concern right now is to save lives," said Niteroi mayor Jorge Silveira, adding the other priority was to "diminish the possibility that these types of events are repeated."
To do that, people had to be moved from high risk areas like Morro do Bumba, he told cable TV channel Globo News.It is still not clear how many people really were swept away. Firefighter chief Colonel Pedro Machado told Agence France Presse news service "based on the testimony of witnesses, some 200 people were buried under the rubble."Yesterday 25 people, including eight small children, were pulled out alive after spending hours buried under mud and debris, raising he hopes of relatives desperate to find their missing loved ones.
But firefighters said the chance of finding more survivors was slim after part of the hillside fell away and swallowed everything in its path, including 50 houses and a day care centre.Sabrina Carvalho de Jesus, 26, a hospital worker in Niteroi, escaped when the earth began to move, but her grandfather, mother and six-year-old son were buried."Honestly, I don't hold out hope any more," she said of her missing loved ones. They were under "an awful lot of earth, and being buried for 12 hours -- that's a lot of time.”
By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children