Death Toll In Brazil Flooding Continues Rising

(CNN)

The death toll from devastating flooding in Brazil continued to rise Sunday, surpassing 600, the government said.

At least 655 deaths were reported in a mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro state, northeast of the city of Rio. Other states in the South American country have also seen heavy rainfall.

Last week, authorities in neighboring Sao Paulo state said 24 people had been killed by flooding. Forecasters there said late Sunday that an approaching cold front could bring more flooding and landslides.

Most of the deaths in Rio de Janeiro state were reported in the cities of Nova Friburgo and Teresopolis, with 302 and 276 fatalities, respectively. The state's health and civil defense department reported 58 fatalities in the town of Petropolis and 19 in Sumidouro.

Officials in that office also warned residents of the risk of waterborne diseases. Several thousand vaccines against tetanus and diphtheria have been distributed, they said.

Rescuers have not been able to reach some hard-hit areas, and many more people are feared dead. The rain is predicted to continue for several days in areas already submerged in water or slathered with mud.

Members of the army entered parts of Teresopolis and were able to rescue 110 families.

Thousands of families are still living on mountain slopes or on riverbanks and face extreme risk of being washed away. One resident described the disaster as a tsunami that fell from the sky.

In a statement, Rio Gov. Sergio Cabral said he had a panic attack when he was traveling to Nova Friburgo and saw a devastated mountainside.