NITEROI, Brazil — with over 400 people now believed dead in one of the worst flooding to engulf Brazil in decades 150 rescuers raced against the clock Saturday in the midst of vanishing optimism of discovering more survivors. Firefighters said there was little chance of finding new survivors after part of the hillside fell away and consumed everything in its path.
More than 70 hours have past since the most powerful rains in half a century unearthed mudslides and floods and rescue workers still have much to do.
In the Niteroi shantytown of Morro do Bumba, the total death toll climbed to 219. More than 200 people may have been buried alive. The town itself, a slum (favela) is perched atop a garbage dump.
The town of Niteroi was the epicenter of Mother Nature’s attack, with more than 134 dead. Another 60 were found across the bay in Rio de Janeiro.
Because homes were damaged over 50,000 people were required to leave their homes, Some were ordered to leave because officials feared fresh landslides.
A survivor, said "We ran and everything starting coming down ... the kitchen, my brothers' room, the living room," she said. "But in the other room it stopped, so when that happened we opened the window ... we jumped into the woods and ran away."
There are more than a million people live in favelas all around the Rio area.
There have been complaints by health experts that government "complacency" is to blame for permitting the country's poorest to build their homes in areas that is a prevalent risk of natural disasters, such as on on the sides of hills were many favelas are built.
City officials have say that "This isn't the time to question why these constructions were allowed, it is the time for solidarity," Sergio Cabral, Rio's governor, said so during an inspected the disaster zone.
On Thursday Brazil's federal government announced a $113m emergency fund to help Rio state manage with the catastrophe.