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Flooding in Rio

Heavy rains flooded Rio de Janeiro state last night and into today, causing an ever-growing number of deaths and injuries and paralyzing the city. The current death toll is 95, according to Globo’s G1 news site, which has been posting photos and videos of the flooding.

Most deaths occurred in the capital city of Rio de Janeiro and in Niteroi, which is connected to the capital via a bridge that was closed for part of the day. It has been the heaviest 24 hours of rain in at least 44 years, and possibly ever, according to Rio's mayor, Eduardo Paes. Paes has declared a state of emergency, cancelled classes for tomorrow, and urged residents not to leave their homes unless they are in areas of risk.

Deaths occurred largely in those areas, generally illegally-occupied hillside communities where construction does not meet government standards and which are at risk of mudslides. The city of Rio de Janeiro is situated among striking green hills whose protected land has for decades been the site of such irregular settlements. "They create the beauty, and they create the risk," engineer Paulo Cesar Rosman told Globo Noticias this evening. "It's the price we pay."

Some highways and roads are closed in and outside of the capital city, and a sharply reduced number of buses are running in the metropolitan area.  Both Rio's domestic and international airports are operating, but with delays. The subway system is operating normally, according to the Globo newspaper website.

Governor Sergio Cabral has declared three days of mourning, starting tomorrow, for the victims of the floods.