Death Toll Rises from Flooding, Mudslides in Brazil

AP Photo/Nelson Antoine

Brazil’s trailblazing female President, Dilma Rousseff, faced the first real test of her presidency as Brazil was hit with deadly flooding and a mudslide that affected several mountain towns near Rio de Janeiro.

The death toll, initially estimated at 35, has escalated to more than 500 and is certain to rise. As search and rescue efforts for survivors expand, several families had to haul their own dead relatives out of the mud.  “Nearly everyone here in Teresópolis knows someone who has died. It is by far the biggest catastrophe the city has ever seen. By far,” civil defense official, Levi Ribeiro, 47, told The Guardian.

As the death and homeless rates rise, the blame game has begun. People are turning to Rousseff for answers. Rousseff, who took office two weeks ago, blames municipalities for allowing people to build houses in high-risk areas. “You have to get people away and into secure areas. The two fundamental issues are housing and land use,” said the new President. Rousseff also recently announced a $420 million rescue package to repair roads and transportation and prevent future catastrophes.

Check out a clip of the landslide’s aftermath:

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