Death toll from Brazil mudslides rises to 76

SAO PAULO Sun Jan 3, 2010 9:00am EST

1 of 8. An aerial view of the Sankay Hotel in Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro State, after a landslide destroyed most of it and surrounding houses, killing at least 35 tourists and residents, January 2, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Shana Reis-Rio State Government/Handout

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SAO PAULO (Reuters) - At least 76 people have died in flooding and mudslides in Brazil's three largest states over the past four days, O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper reported on Sunday.

The death toll in the state of Rio de Janeiro rose to 63. Firefighters and rescue workers removed 18 bodies from a lodge and homes that were destroyed in the early hours of Friday when a hillside collapsed in the luxury beach resort of Angra dos Reis, the newspaper said, citing authorities.

Ten people died in Sao Paulo state, the country's most populous. Three people died in Minas Gerais as heavy rains triggered flooding and landslides.

Rescue crews spent Saturday and early Sunday searching for victims in Angra, where up to 41 people have been found dead, Estado said. The government is advising tourists to leave Angra, the nearby island of Ilha Grande and other tourist towns on the southern coast of Rio state.

Television footage showed rescue workers removing mud around the Sankay lodge and surrounding homes that were buried under a mountain of reddish-brown mud.

So far, there have been no reports of foreign victims.

After an early break in the weather on Sunday, heavy rains are forecast for the coming days.

(Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal in Sao Paulo and Isabel Versiani in Brasilia, editing by Alan Elsner)

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