(From Carbonated TVs Editor's desk)
While the world is still reeling from last year's disasters, particularly the earthquake in Haiti and the floods of Pakistan, it appears that nature this year is going to be brutal to us. The recent floods of Australia which have engulfed the area as big as two Texases and drowned almost 3/4th of Queensland and with that, nearly 200,000 homes - are not just it. South-eastern Brazil is now being pelted with rain and floods!
With heavy rains and flooding across the south east, more than 250 Brazilians have lost their lives with countless homeless. The worst effected state of Rio de Janerio and Sao Pualo - the party capital of the world, have seen record rains and floods with hundreds of deaths.
The victims of the floods are dazed and most have to quickly acclimate themselves with the death and destruction that has spread around them. Some of them were feeling quite helpless because they had been unable to help their near and dear ones with one woman losing nearly 2 dozen of her family members.
Across Brazil, emergency has been declared with Teresopolis Mayor declaring his city as a natural disaster area. The rains will continue to batter the city for the coming days and officials are warning the people that the death toll might climb up.
In the mountain towns of Nova Friburgo, Teresopolis and Petropolis, the reported death tolls are 168, 146 and 34 respectively, Brazilian media reported.
Rescuers are bringing helicopters in as the search for survivors continues in the region north of Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil has seen severe flooding in recent years, affecting thousands.
Heavy rain began falling again early on Thursday as rescuers sought to begin their search and is expected to continue throughout much of the day.
Brazil's civil defence department has not yet confirmed the higher death toll, but officials there have said they believe there could be hundreds more bodies yet to be recovered in Teresopolis alone, the Globo media organisation reported.
Searches continued overnight in Nova Friburgo and Teresopolis, but were postponed in Petropolis, Globo reported.
One area of Teresopolis remains cuts off entirely and is yet to be reached by any rescuers.
Sixteen more bodies were found in the town early on Thursday, but the most dramatic rise was in Nova Friburgo, where 48 more people were reported to have died.
Amid the death and destruction in Nova Friburgo there was one glimmer of hope: a six-month-old baby, reportedly named Nicholas, was found alive after 12 hours trapped in the rubble of a ruined building, reports said.
In Petropolis, Mayor Paul Mustrangi said the waters had ripped through some areas with devastating effect.
"What happened here was worse than what happened in 2008. There is nothing left. All the houses were hit," he told Jornal do Brasil.
With many people still missing, it is feared the death toll could rise even further and there is concern about water-borne diseases.
More than 800 rescue workers are conducting searches in the area. The Brazilian navy has offered helicopters to fly in equipment and personnel.
Witnesses said rescue teams were using heavy machinery, shovels and their bare hands to dig through tonnes of mud and debris.
President Dilma Rousseff is due to fly over the area on Thursday to inspect the damage. On Wednesday she signed a decree authorising 780m reais ($480m, £296m) in emergency funding for the affected areas.
Earlier this week, torrential rains in neighbouring Sao Paulo state left 13 people dead and brought traffic chaos to Brazil's biggest city.
In Teresopolis, a river burst its banks, submerging buildings, while the rainfall set off several mudslides.
"It's a huge catastrophe, a major disaster," Teresopolis Mayor Jorge Mario Sedlacek told Globo television.
TV footage showed homes destroyed and cars submerged.
"I saw six bodies on my street," 53-year-old resident Antonio Venancio told Reuters news agency.
He said his house was inundated with mud but still standing.
"We just don't know what to do in the face of something so horrible," he added.
Civil defence officials in Teresopolis said that the city was soaked with 144mm of rain in 24 hours - more than the usual amount for the whole of January.
Power and telephone lines are down in the three towns, and there is no drinking water, officials say.
Major roads have been cut by floods and landslides, adding traffic chaos to the challenges facing state officials.
One resident described the situation just outside Petropolis as a "sea of mud".
"I've lived here 25 years and never seen anything like it," Manoel Candido da Rocha Sobrinho told Folha website.
"I live in a higher spot but when I look down I just see a sea of mud. Most people saved themselves by scrambling up trees or fleeing to higher ground."