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  HOME | Brazil (Click here for more)

Death Toll From Rains In Southeastern Brazil Rises To 45

RIO DE JANEIRO The death toll from the rains in the southeastern Brazilian state of Minas Gerais has risen to 45, officials said Monday, adding that a state of emergency had been declared in 101 cities.

The Minas Gerais emergency management office said in a report that 18 people were listed as missing and 13,887 others had been forced from their homes.

A total of 3,354 people are being housed at emergency shelters set up at schools and public gymnasiums, officials said.

The death toll rose by just one person in the latest report, while emergency management officials revised the figure on the number of missing downward from 19 to 18.

Search teams found the body of the latest victim in the rubble left behind by a mudslide, emergency management officials said.

The rain let up a bit on Sunday and Monday, allowing firefighters to focus on searching for people who had been reported missing when their dwellings were swept away by mudslides.

The Minas Gerais state government declared a state of emergency in 101 cities affected by the torrential rains, while disaster declarations were issued for the cities of Catas Altas, Ibirite and Orizania.

The emergency and disaster declarations allow the state and national governments to provide stepped up assistance to the cities most affected by the rains and hire contractors to provide services without putting the contracts out to bid.

The rains pounded Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais, and the cities in its metro area especially hard, causing many deaths.

Officials said 13 people have died in Belo Horizonte, six others in Betim and five in Ibirite.

Betim and Ibirite are both located in the Belo Horizonte metropolitan area.

On Friday, Belo Horizonte set a rainfall record for a 24-hour period with 171.8 millimeters (6.7 inches), marking the most rain to fall in the city since the national weather service began keeping records 110 years ago.

In addition to flooding and mudslides, the rains in the Belo Horizonte metropolitan area made rivers overflow their banks, toppled trees and power poles, washed out roads and caused a building that was under construction to collapse.

In the neighboring state of Espiritu Santo, which has been battered by the torrential rains for the past week, nine people have died over a 10-day period.

A state of emergency has been declared for several cities in Espiritu Santo.

The Espiritu Santo emergency management office said about 9,000 people lost their homes were forced to evacuate in the cities of Iconha, Rio Novo do Sul, Vargem Alta and Alfredo Chaves.

The high temperatures during the Southern Hemisphere summer cause rainstorms to be more intense.


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