Troops Arrive As Flooding Deaths Increase In Brazil

by
staphni
(CNN)

The death toll from devastating flooding in Brazil continued to rise Sunday, surpassing 600, the state-run Agencia Brasil news agency reported.

There were at least 626 deaths reported in a mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro state, northeast of the city of Rio. Most of the deaths were reported in the cities of Nova Friburgo and Teresopolis, with 283 and 268 fatalities, respectively. In the nearby town of Petropolis there were 56 dead, and 19 in Sumidouro, the agency reported, citing health and defense officials.

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 the devastated mountainside.

Outside a makeshift morgue in Teresopolis, a crowd of people waited for their turn to identify loved ones.

Marco Antonio Siqueira Costa said that a few days ago was the last time he saw his brother, sister-in-law and niece before mud buried their house. ""I think that last meeting was God's way of granting us a farewell,"" he said.

Residents in the city donned masks and helped clean streets or deliver first aid. Others combed the city, searching desperately for missing loved ones.