Brazil flood and mudslide deaths rise as search goes on

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LONDON. January 13. KAZINFORM The number of people killed by flooding and mudslides in south-east Brazil has reached 335, local officials have said; Kazinform refers to BBC News.

In the mountain towns of Nova Friburgo, Teresopolis and Petropolis, the death tolls are reported at 155, 146 and 34 respectively, Brazilian media reported.

Rescuers are bringing helicopters in as the search for survivors continues in the region north of Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil has seen severe flooding in recent years, affecting thousands.

Heavy rain began falling again early on Thursday as rescuers sought to begin their search and is expected to continue throughout much of the day.

Brazil's civil defence department has not yet confirmed the higher death toll, but officials there have said they believe there could be hundreds more bodies yet to be recovered in Teresopolis alone, the Globo media organisation reported.

Sixteen more bodies were found in the town early on Thursday, but the most dramatic rise was in Nova Friburgo, where 48 more people were reported to have died.

'Huge catastrophe'

With many people still missing it is feared the death toll could rise even further and there is concern about water-borne diseases.

More than 800 rescue workers are conducting searches in the area. The Brazilian navy has offered helicopters to fly in equipment and personnel.

Witnesses said rescue teams were using heavy machinery, shovels and bare hands to dig through tonnes of mud and debris.

President Dilma Rousseff is due to fly over the area on Thursday to inspect the damage.

Earlier this week, torrential rains in neighbouring Sao Paulo state left 13 people dead and brought traffic chaos to Brazil's biggest city; Kazinform cites BBC News.

See www.bbc.co.uk for full version

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