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Brazil Mourns as Flood Death Toll Rises

by Byo24NEWS
16 Jan 2011 at 13:24hrs | Views
Brazilians on Sunday prayed for victims of devastating floods near Rio de Janeiro after the death toll from the natural disaster rose to at least 610 and was predicted to climb again, reports AFP.

Emergency workers in the disaster zone, in the Serrana region just north of Rio, were overwhelmed by the body count. Refrigerator trucks had to be brought in to store corpses.

Workers transporting bodies said they feared the overall death toll could top 1,000 as rescuers reached outlying hamlets.
President Dilma Rousseff declared the three days of mourning, government news agency Agencia Brasil reported. Rio de Janeiro state authorities said their state will observe a full week of mourning starting Monday.

Authorities also made an urgent appeal for donations of blood, bottled water, food and medicine.
At least four refrigerated trucks were parked out the front of an overflowing makeshift morgue inside a Teresopolis church.
At the town's cemetery, a dog curled up at the grave site of his mistress, a woman named Cristina Maria de Santana, refusing to leave even though she had been buried two days earlier, workers told AFP.

Body recovery efforts have been hampered by tons of mud that, in some cases, have cut villages off and made them accessible only by helicopter - but flights were limited by persistent rain that hindered visibility in the rough terrain to just a couple hundred meters (yards).

The disaster, which media called the worst tragedy of its kind in Brazil's history, struck sleeping families Wednesday before dawn.

National guardsmen and soldiers were sent to the region to reinforce police and prevent looting.
Forecasters warned that the wet weather was likely to last into next week.

Source - Byo24NEWS