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Brazil floods, land slides kill hundreds

[Update, 12 P.M., 01/13/11:  Reuters reported that the death toll in the Brazil floods and landslides had risen to 375 people Thursday.]

Floods and mudslides have devastated mountain towns around Rio de Janeiro and in Brazil’s south, killing at least 375 people, according to reports.

The Serrana mountain region received up to 10 inches or rain, or a month’s worth, in 24 hours on Wednesday, destroying houses and killing hundreds.

Worst hit was the town of Teresopolis, 40 miles north of Rio. Television footage from the town of 180,000 showed many houses buried in mud as desperate residents and rescue workers searched for survivors.

In the neighboring town of Nova Friburgo, at least 155 bodies have so far been recovered. Another tourist destinations in the same region, Petropolis, was also badly hit.

On Thursday morning, one Brazilian TV network claimed that more than 419 people had died in Rio state and suggested that as many as 1,000 people could still be missing.

The death toll in the region was expected to rise as firefighters reached remote valleys and steep mountainsides where neighborhoods were destroyed, Teresopolis mayor Jorge Mario told the GloboNews television station.

Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, is due to visit the area Thursday.

Meanwhile, flooding in Queensland, Australia has been described as the “worst natural disaster in the state’s history,” with 15 people confirmed dead and 61 missing.

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