Hopes fade for Brazil mudslide survivors

RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan. 2 -- Hopes are fading to rescue more mudslide survivors from Brazil's worst mudslides that have so far killed at least 64 people, rescuers said.

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Rescurers carry a victim's body in Ilha Grande of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jan. 2, 2010.

The death toll on the Grande Island and at Angra dos Reis was put at 39 and the remaining deaths occurred elsewhere in the Rio de Janeiro State where nearly 80 mudslides were reported in recent days, according to the state civil defense authorities.

The Grande Island and Angra dos Reis mudslides occurred on the New Year's Day when 270 millimeters of rain caused the well-soaked red earth to tear off.

Rains have been falling since Wednesday in the region.

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Photo taken on Jan. 2, 2010 shows an aerial view of houses inundated by flood in Sao Luis do Paraitinga, about 140 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Jan. 2, 2010.

With the assistance from the navy and local volunteers, 80 firefighters and 20 military policemen have been working on the Grande Island, but rescue was progressing slowly for fear that the use of heavy machinery would trigger new mudslides.

So far, rescuers have pulled out 26 bodies from the Grande Island. They found 12 bodies at Angra dos Reis.

Colonel Pedro Machado, head of the Grande Island firefighters, said that more bodies were expected to be found as some 40 people were believed to be in the Grande Island resort lodge and more people were in nearby houses when the mudslide occurred.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Friday ordered forces from the navy and the National Integration Ministry to join in the rescue efforts.