Rains kill at least 31 in Rio, paralyze city

  • World
  • Tuesday, 06 Apr 2010

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Torrential rains caused floods and landslides that killed at least 31 people in Rio de Janeiro state, shutting down transport and commerce in Brazil's second city, officials said on Tuesday.

Most of the victims were killed by mudslides and at least 18 more people were seriously injured, the state's civil defense authority said.

The downpour, which began late on Monday, is the worst the city of Rio has recorded in 30 years, authorities said.

"The situation is critical. Roads are flooded and blocked," Mayor Eduardo Paes told Reuters. "We recommend people to stay at home."

Flights in and out of the city were either canceled or seriously delayed, according to the aviation authority Infraero.

TV images showed central parts of Rio de Janeiro flooded and abandoned cars under water.

On Copacabana beach, residents waded through ankle-deep water on their way to work but many employees got stuck in traffic and returned home.

The southern hemisphere summer has been particularly hot and rainy in Rio de Janeiro this year.

In January dozens of people were killed by a landslide in a plush beach resort halfway between Rio de Janeiro and the port city of Santos.

Meteorologists forecast more rain in the coming days, raising fears of more mudslides as rain-drenched soil becomes heavy.

Globo TV showed images of houses that slid down a ravine, crumbling into pieces covered by an avalanche of mud.

(Writing by Raymond Colitt; editing by Stuart Grudgings)

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