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Mudslides kill 30 in Brazilian resort area

At least 30 people were killed and 10 injured early Friday in two mudslides in a coastal region near Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil Mudslides
Earth covers part of the luxury lodge hit by a mudslide overnight in Angra dos Reis, Brazil.Felipe Dana / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

At least 30 people were killed and 10 injured early Friday in two mudslides in a coastal region near Rio de Janeiro.

A rain-loosened slab of hillside collapsed on three houses and an upscale waterfront lodge after New Year celebrations at an island resort in Angra dos Reis, killing at least 19 people, Brazilian authorities said.

About 120 rescuers scrambled through mud and around toppled trees and large rocks to search for other survivors of the mudslide that also injured at least 10 people. Police helicopters and navy vessels were helping in the rescue efforts.

"People had never seen so much rain in this region," Rio de Janeiro's vice governor, Luiz Fernando Pezao, told Globo TV, and he indicated he feared the death toll could rise. "We'll have to wait for the rescue efforts, but we'll likely encounter a very sad outcome."

A civil defense spokeswoman added that "rescue crews told us there is just so much mud" that removing all the debris would take time.

In another section of the same city, 11 people died in a second mudslide.

The rain-related deaths in Rio de Janeiro state from the past three days of heavy rains reached 50, authorities said, and more rain was predicted across the region.

The lodge mudslide apparently happened after tourists had returned to their rooms following the New Year's celebration in the Pousada Sankay on Ilha Grande, a 90-minute ferry ride from the city of Angra dos Reis, said fire department commander Pedro Machado.

Globo TV reported that a boy and a teenage girl were among the victims, but authorities could not immediately confirm the information.

Tourists rented homes
Police said some of the dead may have been in the houses. They did not immediately release the identities or nationalities of the victims.

"We were told that many of these houses here were rented by tourists for the holidays," Pezao said.

Witnesses told local media the hillside lodge and the houses, which can only be accessed by boat, collapsed after being struck by a slab of land 300 yards wide.

A broad, raw scar of dirt remained on the jungle hillside above the lodge that was smashed by mud, trees and other vegetation. Only a handful of houses and small patches of vegetation were left unscathed.

Wooden parts of the lodge were seen floating near the shore and on the beach.

Lodge reportedly full at time
The hotel, which advertises nightly rates of about $200 and which can accommodate 50 guests, was reportedly full at the time of the mudslide. The lodge was inaugurated in 1994, according to its Web site.

Homes are covered in debris after a mudslide in Ilha Grande, an island off the city of Angra dos Reis near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Jan. 1, 2010. A rain-soaked hillside collapsed on three houses and an upscale lodge after New Year celebrations, killing at least 15 people, according to Brazilian authorities. Felipe Dana / AP

Other mudslides had killed 20 people across Rio de Janeiro state on Thursday, mostly when as shanties collapsed under mud or rain in the greater Rio de Janeiro city area. A 3-year-old girl died in a hospital on Friday after being rescued from one of the mudslides a day earlier. Her parents also died.

Authorities said nearly 80 mudslides have been reported throughout the region, toppling trees and destroying power lines.

Local officials declared three days of mourning and canceled the town's annual celebration on Jan. 6.