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Death Toll Rises To 85 in Rio Floods, At Least 24 Missing

February 6, 1988

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ Five days of heavy rains caused floods and mudslides in Rio de Janeiro state that killed at least 85 people, injured nearly 200 and left 4,800 homeless, a civil defense spokesman said Saturday.

Twenty-four people have been reported missing.

The worst hit town was Petropolis, a mountain resort 40 miles north of Rio de Janeiro city, civil defense spokesman Bruno Ruy Avila said by telephone. He said the Quitandinha River overflowed Friday and flood waters raged through the streets, sweeping away cars and knocking down buildings.

At least 192 people were injured in the town and were taken to hospitals in Rio, according to Avila.

He said 58 people perished in Petropolis and deaths also were reported in Teresopolis, Rio and other cities.

Early Saturday, Petropolis and nearby Teresopolis, where two people were killed, were cut off from outside traffic as three feet of water flowed through city streets. Later Saturday the roads were opened.

At least 40 buildings collapsed in Petropolis and more than 1,000 people were homeless in the area, Avila said.

In Rio, Brazil’s second biggest city, 12 people died since Monday by drowning or being crushed when their houses collapsed, most in the precarious hillside slums called ″favelas.″

Authorities did not have a city-by-city breakdown, but Avila said in Duque de Caxias, a sprawling district north of Rio, 1,300 people were left homeless and were being sheltered in schools and churches.

State Governor Wellington Moreira Franco inspected the flooded areas Saturday by helicopter. The weather forecast was for more rain over the weekend.

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