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Fresh landslide buries 200 near Rio

8 April 2010 14:33

A new landslide in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro has buried up to 200 people following the heaviest rains and flooding in decades.

According to Brazilian officials, mud came crashing down into a slum in Niteroi, across the bay from Rio.

“From what the neighbors said, some 200 people may be buried, but it is not clear; there could be more,” local fire Chief Pedro Machado told AFP.

Many more remain missing and rescue teams have stepped up their operations to find them.

Sources say there is little hope of finding survivors under the mountains of mud.

The new tragedy has added to woes in the tourist city, which has seen 150 already killed as a result of massive flooding in its hillside shantytowns.

It is the heaviest rain in three decades to hit the South American country.

A state of emergency has been declared and officials have warned the death toll could rise as rain continue to pour after 24 hours in Rio and the neighboring city of Niteroi.

Thousands of houses remain at the risk of collapsing and the rains have left 12,000 people homeless.

With many streets under water, Rio’s transport and commerce system has been shut down, bringing the city to complete paralysis.

Morning flights in and out of the busy city have also been cancelled or delayed, while millions of people passed the night without power.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, meanwhile, urged residents in high-risk areas to leave their homes.

The grave situation has brought down heavy criticisms on the government, which is blamed for abandoning the Rio slums and turning a blind eye on illegal constructions there.

Da Silva has however shouldered-off the criticism, accusing local officials of not enforcing adequate building standards in areas prone to landslides.

The southern hemisphere’s summer has been particularly hot and rainy in Rio de Janeiro this year.

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