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As floodwaters ebb in Brazil, death toll keeps rising

By the CNN Wire Staff
A resident sits at home as rescue workers rummage through the scene of a landslide in Nova Friburgo, Brazil, on Tuesday.
A resident sits at home as rescue workers rummage through the scene of a landslide in Nova Friburgo, Brazil, on Tuesday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The death toll in Rio de Janeiro state has climbed to 741
  • "I think there may be five times what we found until now," official says
  • Forecasters predict rain for the next several days in areas already submerged

Rio De Janeiro (CNN) -- As floodwaters receded in some parts of the state of Rio de Janeiro, the devastation from flooding in Brazil continued to climb Wednesday, and the death toll nationwide reached at least 765.

Much of the damage occurred in that state, where heavy rains have liquefied hills into tombs of mud and debris. The state's death toll from flooding has climbed to 741, according to government figures released Wednesday. And thousands are homeless across the state.

In Teresopolis, where 302 bodies have been found, one official predicted that the final tally may far exceed that. "I think there may be five times what we found until now," said Maj. Carlos Falconi, who coordinates the rescue operation in what was once a picturesque tourist town and is now a wasteland.

In Nova Friburgo -- the hardest-hit city, according to government figures -- 355 deaths due to flooding have been counted. In Petropolis, 63 deaths; and in Sumidouro, 21.

Bodies pile up after Brazil floods
Surveying the damage in Brazil
Gallery: Flooding in Brazil
RELATED TOPICS
  • Floods
  • Brazil
  • South America

Rescuers have not been able to reach some hard-hit areas, and the damage is not over -- forecasters predict rain for the next several days in areas already submerged.

Other states in the South American country have also seen heavy rainfall. Last week, authorities in neighboring Sao Paulo state said 24 people had been killed by flooding.

Brazilian authorities have been criticized for a lack of disaster planning and for allowing homes to be built on property known to become treacherous in the rainy season.

They are under pressure to show a strong response. Brazil is scheduled to host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.

CNN's Shasta Darlington contributed to this report

 
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