Over 60 killed in Brazil mudslides

Over 60 killed in Brazil mudslidesRio de Janeiro, Jan 3 - The toll from a series of mudslides this week in Brazil rose to more than 60 Saturday.

The deaths since Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro and outlying areas came after constant heavy rain over several days that has caused hundreds of houses in poverty-stricken favelas to collapse. Many of the neighbourhoods are built precariously on cliffs and hills.

Civil defence authorities said at least 26 people were killed Friday morning on the island of Ilha Grande, in the resort area of Angra dos Reis about 150 km south of Rio, when an avalanche of mud swept over numerous houses and the small Sankay Inn resort.

It was not clear how many hotel guests were among the dead. Around 40 holidaymakers were celebrating the new year at the resort, mostly sleeping after New Year's Eve revelry when the disaster struck about 3.30 a. m. Friday. According to media reports, the owner of the hotel survived but her daughter was killed.

More than 100 people were assisting in the rescue. Operations were difficult because the affected area could only be reached by water.

On the mainland facing Ilha Grande, 13 people died when mudslides struck their homes.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he would send marine and naval forces to assist in rescue operations in remote areas struck by mudslides. (dpa)