More rain falls in Rio as officials fear death toll could rise after heaviest deluge on record

By Bradley Brooks, AP
Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rain resumes in Rio, officials fear more deaths

RIO DE JANEIRO — Rains pelted Rio again on Wednesday, a day after the heaviest deluge on record sent killer mudslides cascading down hillsides and turned streets into raging torrents in Brazil’s second-biggest city.

The death toll increased to 100 in Rio and the neighboring city of Niteroi, while children were kept from schools for a second straight day and authorities continued to urge people to stay at home.

“The situation improved (Wednesday),” Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes told GloboNews TV. “But the less people are on the streets, the better. People should not go out if they don’t have to.”

The city remained on alert amid fears the continuing rains could dislodge saturated ground and cause more slides, Paes said. Authorities reported 104 people injured and 65 missing.

Although the sun began emerging in some areas, pockets of heavy rains continued to cause trouble.

Some roads were still underwater, and a Copa Libertadores match between Flamengo and Universidad de Chile was postponed until Thursday because of flood damage at Maracana stadium.

Most of the deaths were caused by landslides that slashed through slums built precariously on steep slopes, leaving red-brown trails of destruction. Concrete and wooden homes were crushed and hurtled downhill onto other structures.

Officials said potential mudslides threatened at least 10,000 houses in the city of 6 million people. Some 1,200 people were left homeless.

Rio, which will host 2014 World Cup matches and the 2016 Olympics, ground to a near halt on Tuesday as 11 inches (28 centimeters) of rain drenched the city in less than 24 hours.

Rio 2016 organizers and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva downplayed the possibility that similar downpours could wash out the biggest sporting events ever to be hosted in Brazil — neither of which will be held during the nation’s rainy season.

Forecasters predicted more rain through the weekend, though it was expected to lessen.

Associated Press writers Marco Sibaja in Brasilia and Tales Azzoni in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.

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