Brazil Flood Death Toll Rises To 65, 17 Missing

Tuesday, November 25th 2008, 8:30 am
By: News On 6

SAO PAULO, Brazil - The death toll from rain-spawned floods and mudslides in southern Brazil has risen to 65 people, with 17 still missing, civil defense authorities said Tuesday.

Most died in mudslides that swept away homes and businesses, and officials from Santa Catarina state say they fear more mudslides because the earth is still saturated with water.

Eight cities remained isolated because of weekend rains that caused rivers to overflow their banks, civil defense officials said in a statement.

A pipeline rupture cut off the state's sole source of natural gas from Bolivia, prompting shortages of cooking gas and fuel for cars.

Six large textile mills also shut down because they had no natural gas to generate electricity, Brazil's Valor Economico business newspaper reported.

Seventeen highways are blocked by mudslides. Authorities say that more than 52,000 people were forced to leave their homes.

The death toll was most severe in the town of Ilhota along the banks of the Itajai River, where 15 people died after waters rose 9 meters (30 feet) above normal.

Also hard hit was the city of Blumenau, where 13 people died when they were buried by mudslides. Another 15 people suffered serious injuries, according to the civil defense statement.

More than 150,000 people in the city of nearly 300,000 had no electricity. Blumenau is a renowned tourist destination founded by German immigrants and is known for its Oktoberfest celebration.