Rio de Janeiro–Rescuers pulled more bodies from a collapsed hillside slum near Rio de Janeiro on Friday, abandoning hope of finding survivors from a mudslide that buried more than 100 people after the heaviest rains in four decades.
The rains that started on Monday have killed at least 205 people, most in mudslides that devastated poor hillside communities, and left thousands homeless in and around Brazil’s second-biggest city.
The worst single mudslide occurred on Wednesday night when a torrent of mud destroyed houses, stores and churches in a slum built on a former garbage dump in Niteroi, a city across a bay from Rio.
Rescuers pulled 10 more bodies from the debris on Friday and Rio state Governor Sergio Cabral said many more were feared dead under the mud.
"There are about 100 to 150 bodies, according to what the fire department told me," Cabral told reporters at the Bumba Hill slum. "The situation is appalling.
"The responsibility for what happened here rests with all of us, the authorities and society."
The federal government has sent troops and 200 million reais to help the state confront the disaster, and the United States said on Friday it was donating $50 million to help the more than 50,000 people made homeless.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes signed a decree allowing the city to force residents to leave 158 locations the city deems at risk. He had already announced this week the city would remove between 1,500 and 2,000 families from two slums, meeting resistance from some residents’ groups.
The chaos caused by the rains has renewed attention on Rio’s slums and poor infrastructure as it prepares to host soccer’s World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.
Deluges early this week turned highways into lakes, left drivers stranded in cars and forced some commuters to wade home through kilometers of flooded streets.