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Mudslide Kills 19 in Brazil

New Year's Day Mudslide at Pousada Sankay Resort

On New Year’s Day 2010 experiencing more rain than usual on the island of Angra dos Reis in a region of Brazil near Rio de Janiero, mudslides reign down covering 3 homes and a portion of the upscale waterfront lodge Pousada Sankay Resort.

Ten people were injured by the resort slide early Friday, and about 120 rescuers scrambled through mud and around toppled trees and large rocks to search for more survivors. Police helicopters and navy vessels helped in the rescue effort.

In addition to the two deadly mudslides in Angra dos Reis, local authorities said nearly 80 mudslides were reported throughout the region, toppling trees and destroying power lines. Rain-related deaths in Rio de Janeiro state from three days of heavy rains reached 50, officials said, and more rain was predicted across the region.

The mudslide at the Pousada Sankay resort apparently happened after tourists had returned to their rooms following the New Year’s celebration at the lodge on Ilha Grande, a 90-minute ferry ride from Angra dos Reis, fire department commander Pedro Machado said. He said at least 17 people died.

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

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

A bulldozer was brought in to help in the search for survivors. Bodies recovered from the rubble were being transported off the island by boats and helicopters. Authorities said the search was expected to continue through the night.

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 earth nearly 300 meters (330 yards) wide.

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

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

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

Local officials in Angra dos Reis declared three days of mourning and canceled the city’s annual celebration scheduled for Wednesday.

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