updated 12/4/2008 2:48:25 PM ET 2008-12-04T19:48:25

Brazilian authorities said tens of thousands of flood victims have begun returning home in southern Brazil.

Civil defense officials in the hard-hit southern state of Santa Catarina said more than half of 80,000 people have returned home after being displaced by floods.

But further north in Rio de Janeiro state, the number of people driven from home by recent storms has increased to nearly 20,000.

Santa Catarina state's civil defense department said Wednesday in a statement that another rain-related death was confirmed, increasing the death toll to 117. Most were killed by mudslides provoked by heavy rains.

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