Death Toll in Brazilian Floods Exceeds 700

World | January 19, 2011, Wednesday // 13:34|  views

A man is looking the damage caused by heavy rains in Vieira town, near Teresopolis, in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro, 18 January 2011. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The number of people who died in the devastating floods in Brazil has exceeded 700, the Brazilian government announced.

The ongoing rains have caused flooding and mudslides in the mountain regions of the state of Rio de Janeiro, which is affected the most.

Helicopter has been trying to rescue people, but they could not reach some of the hard-hit areas and many people are feared dead, CNN informed.

Thousands of people were left homeless by the rains that will continue for several days in areas already submerged in water, according to weather forecasts.

The tourist town of Teresopolis has turned into a wasteland with bodies and belongings remaining strewn around as family members search for their loved ones. At least 292 people from the town had died.

Other Brazilian states have also been affected by the floods. Last week, authorities in Sao Paulo said that 24 people have been killed.

Brazilian experts and officials tried to pinpoint the cause of the disaster.

"Combine a weather event and environmental irresponsibility and the sum equals a tragedy," said Carlos Minc, the Environment Minister of Rio de Janeiro, as cited by CNN.

He has stated that he wants to stop construction of homes in high-risk areas, such as river banks and steep mountain slopes.

"There is no emergency plan or drills with the population so they know what to do in a situation like this," Minc said.

The Brazilian authorities have been criticized for the lack of disaster planning and for allowing people to build homes in dangerous areas that are known to become treacherous in the rainy season.

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Tags: Brazil, floods, flooding, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo


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