Page last updated at 18:13 GMT, Thursday, 31 December 2009

Brazil storms and landslides kill at least 18


Heavy rains have caused floods and landslides in Brazil, leaving at least 18 people dead.

Officials said that most of the deaths occurred as shanties collapsed under mud or rain in the greater Rio de Janeiro city area.

One of the worst incidens was in Jacarepagua, in western Rio area, where a family of five died in a landslide.

The state has been hit by 24 hours of downpours threatening new year celebrations on Copacabana Beach.

Some 200 people had to flee their homes in Baixada Fuminese, in northern Rio, after three rivers burst their banks.

The authorities have urged people in vulnerable areas to move to safety even if it means abandoning their homes.

Weather forecasters expected the rains to continue throughout Thursday.

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