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Mudslides kill 33 in Brazil

Brazil mudslides kill at least 33, more at risk

The Boston Globe, Jan. 18, 2003

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil - Rescue workers sifted through tons of thick brown mud and rubble yesterday with little hope of finding survivors of mudslides that left 33 confirmed dead and more feared buried in the central Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.

Torrential rains swept through the state early Thursday, leaving 89 people injured and another 1,098 homeless, according to the civil defense unit. In all, 7,678 people were forced to evacuate their residences. So far, 2,709 homes have been destroyed in the mudslides, many built precariously in hillside shantytowns. Another 69 were at risk of collapsing as heavy rains continued across the area, authorities said.

More than 30 municipalities declared a state of emergency, but the worst damage was in Belo Horizonte, Brazil's fourth-largest metropolitan area, where 15 people were killed. Several other deaths were reported in four small towns in the surrounding area.

Early yesterday, a 10-year-old boy died in a Belo Horizonte hospital following his rescue the previous evening after spending 15 hours buried in mud. Eight other members of the boy's family also died in the disaster.

Only the boy's parents, Antonio Laurencio and Valda Caldeira Santos, managed to escape alive. They lost five children and four nephews in the accident.

In Manhuacu, a rescue worker drowned when his boat capsized. Mudslides also washed over two highways, and two buildings in the city of Caratinga collapsed under the heavy rains.

This story ran on page A10 of the Boston Globe on 1/18/2003.

Mudslides kill 16 at mountain resort

The Boston Globe, Jan. 12, 2003

RIO DE JANEIRO - Mudslides touched off by torrential rains killed at least 16 people early yesterday in a mountain resort city outside Rio de Janeiro, civil defense said. The mudslides buried three houses built on a precarious piece of hillside in Petropolis. Authorities said the water flooding the city's main street and square had risen to about 5 feet and was only slowly withdrawing, although the rain had stopped. Three victims were found drowned in the Piabanaha river after having been swept away by torrents of water, two of them trapped inside a car, while one man drowned as torrents of water swept through the city center. Authorities feared as many as four people were feared buried beneath the mud. (Reuters)