Rio de Janeiro in Mourning after catastrophic Storm Kills 182
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Rio de Janeiro in Mourning after catastrophic Storm Kills 182

April 9, 2010, 2:27 am
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Rio de Janeiro in Mourning after catastrophic Storm Kills 182
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RIO DE JANEIRO, April 9 -  The state of Rio de Janeiro is in mourning after the shock of a severe storm that killed at least 182 people, made many thousands homeless and brought the entire state to a grinding halt.  Eduardo Paes, Rio’s Mayor told reporters that up to 2,000 families would be transported from high-risk areas, but gave no other details.  The Mayor said that 4,000 families were made homeless and 10,000 houses could be at risk.  Most of these houses were in the slums “favelas” where a fifth of Rio's people live.

Some 20 people were removed from the debris alive but civil defense spokesman Pedro Machado said the Globo news network that there could be more than 200 people still  buried in the landslide.

There are still 65 people missing in Rio and neighboring municipalities so the figures may rise steeply during the following days. The Civil Defense ordered that 2,134 people to leave a total of 180 houses due to floods and mudslides.  In the Morro do Bumba “favela” more than 50 houses were engulfed from the mud and rubble flowed in.  Even with aggressive rescue teams combing the area with floodlights in Morro do Bumba, there was little hope of locating survivors, according to BBC's Paulo Cabral in Rio de Janeiro. "In our experience, it's an instant death [for those caught in their homes]," Mr Machado said.

Rescue missions are still ongoing but the number of deaths is still expected to go up. The Morro do Bumba area, which has a population of 200, was hit by multiple mudslides, rescue efforts so far only yielded 13 bodies and about 60 people were rescued.

Authorities have confirmed that there was 288 millimeters in 24 hours of rain; a record-high amount. It was Rio's worst storm in recent history. About 2,000 firemen have been assigned to the rescue mission.  The federal government ordered extra workers sent from the National Security Force to assist.

The rain still falls in some areas but Rio is slowly returns back to normal. Schools and universities are still suspended, but the courts and government buildings have re-commenced. Public transportation services are operating normally. Some areas are still without electricity.

According to the latest weather forecasts, rain was likely to continue, but would not be as heavy.

Author: Paulo Martins
Paulo Martins is a graduate of the London School of Journalism. His writings concern the plight of man in a digital world and Environmental Issues. He is currently residing in Rio de Janeiro Brazil.
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