Brazil mudslides: Death toll rises to 727

Brazil mudslides: Death toll rises to 727

The civil defence department said rescue crews were still searching for hundreds of people missing after the flooding and mudslides that destroyed hundreds of homes.

With 345 residents confirmed dead, Nova Friburgo is the city most heavily affected. Rescue teams found 298 bodies in Teresopolis, 63 in Petropolis and 21 in Sumidouro.

At least 6,050 people have lost their homes and 7,780 have had to be temporarily evacuated and housed in public schools, according to authorities.

Rio Lt. Gov. Luiz Fernando Pezao said that, in addition to the areas cut off by the tonnes of mud, stones and earth that slid off mountainsides, in other zones where access is possible, cleanup teams may find more bodies.

President Dilma Rousseff ordered Defence Minister Nelson Jobim and Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo to return to the area to supervise rescue and reconstruction work.

In addition to about 1,500 firefighters, police and members of the civil defence department, about 1,000 Brazilian troops and National Security Force personnel are participating in the rescue work.