Rain hampers resuce effort in Brazil slides

TERESOPOLIS. January 14. KAZINFORM Rain began falling again Friday in this mountain town, hampering rescue efforts in the wake of deadly mudslides and flooding that has killed hundreds of people and left vast swaths of cities buried under layers of earth; Kazinform refers to Arab News.

The death toll ticked up overnight to 479 killed in three cities north of Rio in what is one of Brazil's deadliest natural disasters on record. Officials feared, however, that number could sharply rise, though they would not venture a guess of how many remain missing. Local reports put it in the hundreds.

Hundreds of rescuers were in the area and officials said lack of help was not a problem - rather it was trying to access remote areas isolated after roads were washed out.

Despite the new rains, no more mudslides have been reported.

For those who did survive remains the grim task of burying loved ones.

As night fell Thursday on Teresopolis, barefoot volunteers dragged a generator and stadium lights into a cemetery, where nearly 200 freshly dug graves lay open like wounds in the red clay soil, waiting for the dead.

Funerals already had been held all day: a sister laying her brother to rest, a man burying his 1-year-old niece in a small white casket, a mother who cried her 9-year-old son's name repeatedly as he was lowered into the earth.

Small, handmade white crosses identified only by numbers - the details would have to come later - dotted the desolate, sodden hilltop.

Dozens more funerals will come Friday and 300 more graves will be dug Saturday, said Vitor da Costa Soares, a city worker in charge of the cemetery.

"We'll make room. We have to. We'll stay up here until 10 p.m., midnight if we can, and we'll be here at 6 a.m.

tomorrow," he said.

Heavy rains unleashed the mudslides before dawn Wednesday, burying people as they slept in this area about 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of Rio.

Survivors started digging for friends and relatives with their bare hands, kitchen utensils, whatever they could find as they waited for help in remote neighborhoods perched precariously on steep, washed-out hillsides; Kazinform cites Arab News.

See www.arabnews.com for full version

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