Floods and mudslides have devastated mountain towns around Rio de Janeiro and in Brazil's south, killing at least 270 people in 24 hours as the nation braces for more deaths.
Many died in the night and early morning as the rain in some areas came so quickly people did not have time to evacuate. The Serrana region north of Rio received about a month's rainfall in 24 hours, Reuters reports. Rescue workers attempted to find survivors in homes buried by mudslides.
"I believe the number of dead is much more than was announced so far," said Rio state environment secretary Carlos Minc, according to Reuters. "Many people died while they were sleeping."
The flooding also left about 75,000 homes without power, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who was sworn into office this year, promised 780 million reais ($460 million) in reconstruction funds for the areas devastated by the disaster.
In the hardest hit area, Teresopolis, at least 130 people died and four firefighters were buried alive during a rescue attempt.
"I saw six bodies on my street," Teresopolis resident Antonio Venancio told Reuters by telephone. "We just don't know what to do in the face of something so horrible."
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