Hundreds dead in Brazil flooding

 Hundreds dead in Brazil flooding

As many as 355 people are believed to have died as flooding sweeps southern Brazil.

Mudslides in the towns of Nova Friburgo, Teresopolis and Petropolis have claimed 155, 146 and 34 lives respectively local media reports.

Rescuers are drafting in helicopters from Rio de Janeiro as the search for survivors continues.

Brazil’s civil defence authority has not yet confirmed a higher death toll, but has said it believes there could be hundreds more bodies yet to be recovered in Teresopolis alone, the Globo media organisation reported.

Images from the town – which has a population of 180,000 - showed tonnes of mud and water crashing into homes and washing cars away.

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The whole of Brazil has suffered severe flooding this year, leaving thousands of people homeless.

Hundreds of people die every year, with the poor who live in vulnerable, poorly-constructed homes most affected.

The mountains around the affected area saw ten inches of rain fall in less than 24 hours.

More rain is forecast through the weekend raising the possibility of further casualties.

President Dilma Rousseff signed a measure on Wednesday sending US$461 million to towns in Rio and Sao Paulo states damaged during the recent rains.

The money will go to repairing infrastructure and preventing future disasters.