Mudslides devastate Brazil holiday town

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Mudslides devastate Brazil holiday town

Mudslides devastate Brazil holiday town
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In normal times Teresopolis is a holiday town. But coffins are being prepared for the victims of the Brazilian floods and landslides.

Identifying them is sometimes difficult, as documents belonging to many residents were washed away in the disaster.

Bodies are being taken in by the dozen at the morgue, right in the town centre.

Nursery school teacher Rita d’Avila has identified several of her children among the dead. She has volunteered to help the relief effort.

“Here is no place to cry, so I cried at home,” she says. “Here I must be strong. Because other people are going to need more help than me. I’ve not lost anything. I lost friends, but not my house or close family.”

A list of the victims gives an idea of the scale of the disaster in this mountainous area about a hundred kilometres north of Rio de Janeiro.

The brunt of the tragedy has been borne by poorer people in houses built in risky areas, often without formal planning permission.

Torrents of mud and water toppled homes and buried entire families as they slept.

It is Brazil’s worst natural disaster in decades. More than 500 people are known to have died and the number is set to rise further. Thousands have been made homeless. Many were trapped in their homes; rescuers have been using their bare hands.

Our correspondent in Teresopolis, Sébastien Vuagnat, said:

“On top of the distress of those who’ve lost everything, and the anxiety of people searching for loved ones, there’s another cause for concern for the whole population here. The weather forecast is not good. It’s due to rain heavily the whole weekend.”