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Torrential rain, mudslides in Brazil kill 140
In Teresopolis, a town 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of Rio, flash floods tossed cars into trees and mudslides poured tons of red earth over houses below. At least 114 died, according to a local Civil Defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to release the information. She added that 10 inches (26 centimeters) of rain fell on the town during 24 hours.
Survivors waded through waist-high water, carrying what belongings they could, trying to reach higher ground. Flood water continued to flow down the mountains, though rains had stopped.
.."I've lived here 25 years and I've never seen anything like it," Teresopolis citizen Manoel Rocha Sobrinho told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper. "I live on high ground and when I looked below, I only saw a sea of mud. Most people saved themselves by climbing trees."
With the new disasters, nearly 2000 people have died since Christmas across the southeastern portions of the country.
The mayor of Teresopolis decreed a state of emergency, calling the calamity "the worst to hit the town." About 800 search and rescue workers from the state's civil defense department and firefighters dug for survivors.
"There was no saying what would collapse. Rich people's homes, poor people's homes. Everything was destroyed," Fernanda Carvalho, 27, a house cleaner, told Globo TV.
In neighboring Petropolis, 18 people were confirmed dead by the city's mayor.
The death toll in the region is expected to rise as firefighters reach remote valleys and steep mountainsides where neighborhoods were destroyed, said Jorge Mario Sedlacek, the mayor of Teresopolis. About 1,000 there were left homeless.
"This is the largest catastrophe in the history of this town," said Sedlacek in an interview with Globo TV.
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