Death toll in Rio storms reaches 257
Rescue workers search for victims of a landslide in Teresopolis January 12, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters)
RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- The death toll in the storms which hit Rio de Janeiro state doubled in the past few hours, reaching 257, local authorities said Wednesday evening.
Most of the damage was concentrated in three municipalities in the state's northern mountainous region. A total of 130 people have been reported dead in Teresopolis, 107 in Nova Friburgo and 20 in Petropolis.
Several neighborhoods in the three municipalities are isolated by mudslides. Many of the neighborhoods are still cut off from water, electricity and telephone services.
Over 1,000 homeless people are staying in shelters set up in clubs and schools. In Nova Friburgo, a gym is being used as a morgue.
Eight hundred firemen and civil defense workers are deployed in the region to rescue civilians. The Brazilian Navy has sent two helicopters to transport personnel and equipment.
President Dilma Rousseff and Rio's Governor Sergio Cabral are expected to fly to the devastated region on Thursday. The president signed on Wednesday the release of 780 million reais (465 million U.S. dollars) to the damaged regions, including some areas in Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais.
An aerial view shows a landslide-affected area in Teresopolis January 12, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters)