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Rio Still Fears More Casualties and Mudslides, After Over 70 Deaths

Angra dos ReisBrazilian Colonel José Paulo Miranda, an officer in the Rio de Janeiro state Fire Department, declared  that he still did not have a final count of the missing, the dead or the exact number of buildings that were lost in the mudslide at the Enseada Bananal on Ilha Grande on New Year’s eve. 

“We are checking to find out how many locals were in this area, and the number of tourists. The information we have so far leads us to believe that unfortunately there are more bodies buried here,” he said.

Meanwhile dramatic stories are coming to light. For example, businessman Marcelo Repetto Filho was in a rented house on Ilha Grande with his wife, Claudia Cristine, and two daughters, aged 9 and 12, along with an uncle and an aunt.

Marcelo and Claudia Cristine survived but everyone else died. Marcelo said he was devastated. “What am I going to do without my wonderful, pretty little girls?”

In the town of Angra dos Reis, the Morro do Carioca death toll has now reached 21.

Civil Defense authorities now say that the total of deaths in the Angra dos Reis area (which includes Ilha Grande) stands at 50. In the state of Rio de Janeiro the total is more than 70. And they warn that as more rain is in the forecast, more mudslides are possible. The hillsides are already saturated with water, they say.

The destruction and deaths caused by the heavy rains in Angra are driving tourists away from the Rio’s south beaches, according to president of the Brazilian Hotel Industry (ABIH) for the Rio region, Alfredo Lopes.  He informed that since the tragedy, 40%  of the reservations in Angra dos Reis hotels were canceled.

In Ilha Grande, cancellations reached 55% and even Paraty, which has access problems due to the Rio-Santos (BR-101) landslides .

“Hotels with 98% of their rooms booked in New Year’s saw occupancy drop to 30% the next day. It’s natural for people to leave earlier when tragedy strikes, but the commotion and intensive media coverage are giving the wrong impression that areas that were not affected by the rain are also at risk,” said Lopes.

After four days of isolation, without water and electricity, residents of Vila Velha in Angra dos Reis, are trying  to return to their daily routine. Until Monday evening the 300 families living in the community and luxury condominiums in the area needed boats to go places.

ABr/Bzz

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