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Clean-up continues in Brazil

April 10, 2010 — The death toll is now at 219 after major mudslides pour through Rio de Janerio, Brazil.

Rescue workers have been using heavy machinery to search for bodies and survivors after a massive landslide came crashing down near Rio de Janeiro earlier this week.

As of Saturday, crews continued searching through the debris. Workers have uncovered 30 bodies at the slum site in Niteroi, next to Rio, where the slide hit. Authorities believe many people are still buried underneath the heavy mud, and the death toll is likely to increase.

The rains have eased, but the terrain is completely water-soaked, which could result in future slides.

Many of the victims were swept away when powerful landslides burst down the steep hillsides into the slum village.

The region's heaviest rain in more than four decades has triggered major flooding and about 200 mudslides since Monday night. More than 24,000 families are currently homeless.

Several local media outlets said at least 27 people have been rescued, but hundreds of others have been injured.

Brazil's federal government has sent troops to help rescue efforts.

Meanwhile, on the coast, forecasters warned that there could be massive waves crashing the shores earlier this week. And at the scenic Copacabana beach, where the sea is usually flat, 6.5-foot waves hit the sand on Thursday. Authorities warned people not to swim or surf until conditions returned to normal, but that didn't stop some from venturing out.

'It's definitely the best sea of the year, of the last few years as well,' said one local photographer.

'A lot of people travel to other countries to catch waves, and we have these here, said one surfer.'

This year's summer in the southern hemisphere was particularly hot and rainy in Brazil. In January, at least 76 people died in flooding and mudslides. Later that month, dozens of people were killed in a landslide at a beach resort between Rio and the port city of Santos.

For the latest updates on the current situation in Rio de Janeiro, make sure you tune into The Weather Network on TV. Our newscast comes up at :12 and :42 minutes past each hour.

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