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Death toll climbs from Rio mudslides

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Landslide causes misery in Brazil
  • Death toll climbs to at least 181; thousands left homeless
  • Mayor: Record-breaking 11.3 inches (288 millimeters) of rain fell in Rio Tuesday
  • 200 could be trapped following another mudslide, Brazilian media report

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (CNN) -- The death toll from flooding and mudslides in Brazil continued to climb Thursday, with official reports of at least 181 fatalities.

Thousands of people have been left homeless, said the government-run Agencia Brasil news service. The Rio de Janeiro mayor's office placed that figure at 5,000.

At least 161 people have been injured, the Rio de Janeiro state government said Thursday on its Web site.

A record 11.3 inches (287 millimeters) of rain fell in Rio within 24 hours Tuesday, Mayor Eduardo Paes said, according to the news service. The downpour continued Wednesday.

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Video: Flood victims rescued in Rio
  • Brazil
  • Rio de Janeiro

More than 30 homes were destroyed in a mudslide Wednesday in metropolitan Rio, Agencia Brasil said.

About 200 people could be buried or trapped in the mud, emergency officials said.

The cities of Niteroi and Sao Goncalo are among the hardest hit, with more than 80 dead and dozens missing, the news service said.

CNN affiliate TV Record showed firefighters, military personnel and other rescuers using heavy machinery to dig for buried residents.

Brazil's minister of cities, Marcio Fortes, said that housing and sanitation problems are not new for Rio.

His department, which works directly with cities on urban development projects, said that before this week's flooding, the government already had set aside some $800 million to cities to help deal with flood waters and poor infrastructure.

Now, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has made available another $11 billion for drainage infrastructure across Brazil, Fortes said.

As for the project that sits before them, Fortes estimated that about 4,000 homes can be rebuilt, together with better roads, schools and health centers. These would provide a shift from the current structures in the slums of Rio, where housing is often improvised.

"You can't correct the past, but you can fix the future," Fortes said.

CNN's Marilia Brocchetto contributed to this report.