Death toll from Brazilian landslides and floods climbs to 741

43106.jpegAt least 207 people are still missing after Brazil's worst landslides in decades, authorities said on Wednesday, as the death toll from the disaster in a scenic mountain region reached 741.

The list of missing people released by the Rio de Janeiro state prosecutor's office -- the first official estimate of the number of missing since the catastrophe struck a week ago -- suggests the final death toll could be close to 1,000.

Local officials in the worst-affected towns of Teresopolis and Nova Friburgo said the number of missing was at least 300. Many of them are believed buried under the avalanches of mud and debris from flash floods that destroyed hundreds of homes, according to Reuters.

Tuesday's rains killed one woman when her house collapsed under the deluge, while several major highways in the city were submerged, stranding thousands of motorists atop their cars and wreaking travel chaos in the city of over 11 million people.

Fleets of helicopters were called in to rescue the and the mayor's office has issued a series of flood alerts for various parts of the city.

Further away in the state of Rio de Janeiro, a break in the rain allowed rescuers to step up recovery and relief efforts, delivering fresh supplies to isolated areas and pulling more bodies from the mud, Albuquerque Express reports.

"The shock in food prices caused by rains is hitting an already heated economy," Ures Folchini, the head of fixed income investments at Banco WestLB do Brasil SA in Sao Paulo, said in a phone interview yesterday. "The central bank will certainly take this into account because inflation expectations are worsening."

A spike in vegetable and fruit prices could make it harder for new central bank President Alexandre Tombini to fight inflation being pushed by robust domestic demand and higher commodity prices, Folchini said. The deadliest natural disaster in Brazil's history will test the resolve of President Dilma Rousseff, who took office Jan. 1 vowing to restrain spending, Bloomberg says.


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