Death toll in Brazil landslides rises to 31

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Three bodies were found in eastern Brazil on Thursday, bringing to 31 the death toll from landslides caused by heavy rains that lashed a rugged area of Rio de Janeiro state, authorities said.

Petropolis Mayor Rubens Bontempo told a press conference late on Wednesday that the heavy downpour late on Sunday and Monday caused US$60 million (S$75 million) in damage.

The deluge in and around Petropolis, located 68km north of Rio, also left 18 people injured and forced 1,466 people to leave their homes or left them homeless.

Nearly 250 soldiers and Civil Defence officials were mobilised to assist residents of the area where 21 districts are either under water or hit by landslides.

Up to 39cm of rain fell in parts of Petropolis during a 24-hour period, compared to just 27 cm expected for all of March.

In January 2011, more than 900 people died in the same area after heavy rains triggered flooding and landslides.