Slides leave 400 dead
TERESOPOLIS, Brazil – Walls of earth and water swept away homes in the mountains north of Rio de Janeiro, wiping out families and leaving survivors scrambling yesterday to reach still-trapped neighbours.
More than 420 people died in three Rio state towns after slides hit at about 3 a.m. Wednesday, and at least 50 people were still missing, officials said. Another 34 people had already died in floods and slides since Christmas in southeastern Brazil.
“We were like zombies, covered in mud, in the dark, digging and digging, after the slides hit at about 3 a.m. Wednesday,” said Geisa Carvalho, 19.
A tremendous rumble awoke Geisa and her mother Vania Ramos as tons of earth slid down a sheer granite rock face onto their neighbourhood.
The power was out, but by lightning flashes they could see a torrent of mud and water rushing just a few feet from their home – and the remnants of their neighbours’ houses that were swept far down a hill.
“I don’t even have the words to describe what I’ve seen,” said Ramos, during a five-mile hike to the main part of her town in search of food and water.
“A lot of our friends are dead or missing. There are people we may never find.” (AP)