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With Break in Rain, Brazil Airlifts Aid to Mudslide Victims

But survivors largely left to own devices
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 16, 2011 12:00 PM CST
With Break in Rain, Brazil Airlifts Aid to Mudslide Victims
For the second consecutive day, Leao sits next to the grave of her owner, who died in this week's Brazil floods, at the cemetery in Teresopolis, near Rio de Janiero, on Jan. 15.   (AFP/Getty)

(Newser) – A break in near-constant rain today allowed Brazilian rescue helicopters to deliver desperately needed food and water to neighborhoods buried under tons of earth in mudslides that have killed more than 600. Rain clouds lifted, allowing about a dozen helicopters to buzz around the craggy peaks of the emerald-green mountains some 40 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. "The priority is the rescue of people who are still isolated. We have to take advantage of this break in the weather to help people in these remote, collapsed areas," says a rescue official.

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The helicopters were not immediately being used to evacuate people from areas that are still at risk of more mudslides should rains return. Instead, they were concentrating on getting supplies to as many isolated areas as possible to keep people there alive. That has meant people have simply had to save themselves, mostly by hiking miles from their neighborhoods down to the center of Teresopolis to fetch supplies. The known death toll stands at 626 people today; officials fear it will rise sharply as the remote areas are reached and more bodies found. (Read more Brazil stories.)

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