More than 40 dead, 70,000 homeless in Brazil's flooding and mudslides


Men row in a boat along a flooded street in Vila Velha, Espirito Santo state, Brazil, on December 27, 2013.



SAO PAULO, Brazil — More than 40 people are dead and 70,000 are homeless after torrential rains in southeastern Brazil caused flooding and mudslides over the past few weeks.

Civil Defense officials in Espirito Santo state reported on Thursday a total of 27 fatalities, including eight on Thursday, in what was described as the worst rains in 90 years.

They said 61,379 people in the state alone were forces to flee their homes.

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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff interrupted her holidays on Friday to tour flooded areas of the state.

"We are going to have to rebuild the state," Espirito Santo State Governor Renato Casagrande said, referring to the extensive damage caused to bridges and roads.

In neighboring Minas Gerais state, authorities have reported 17 deaths and said 4,150 people have evacuated their homes.

A total of 79 towns were affected across the state and an alert was declared in 26 of them.

Residents of the city of Governador Valadares blocked a major highway on Thursday night and demanded more help from the federal government in the wake of the destruction.

On Tuesday, Rousseff pledged millions of dollars in federal aid to help the effort.

Troops have been deployed to help distribute food, water and medicine to areas of the country cut off by flooding and mudslides, and also to repair roads destroyed by the heavy rainfall.