Hope fades for mudslide survivors

Firefighters digging for survivors of mudslides in Brazil have found only bodies under a mountain of red earth and crushed lodgings after the country's worst such disaster which have killed at least 64 people in the south-east region.

At least 26 people died in the New Year's Day slide which buried a resort on the island of Ilha Grande, including the 18-year-old daughter of the couple who built the waterfront lodge at the foot of a cliffside covered with rainforest.

Officials said no foreigners were known to be among the dead and there were few details about those who died.

A torrent of mud tore a 1,000ft scar down the hill, pushing parts of the Pousada Sankay and three neighbouring houses into the sea shortly after guests had retired to their rooms following New Year's Eve celebrations.

Minutes earlier on the mainland, a torrent of reddish mud cascaded into the Carioca slum in the nearby coastal city of Angra dos Reis, killing at least 13 people and reducing rickety shacks to rubble.

The dual mudslides early on New Year's Day were triggered by 10in of rain which had drenched the region since Wednesday.

"We came to celebrate the New Year and then all this sadness happened," Fernanda de Oliveira, a witness to the mudslide on Ilha Grande, told the O Globo newspaper. Ms Oliveira was staying in a house beside the Pousada Sankay when she heard a rumble in the middle of the night.

"We couldn't see what was happening. It was raining hard and the water was leaking into our house," she said. "Suddenly, we saw people in the sea and we went down to rescue them. They were people staying in the pousada."

The lodge owners' daughter, Yumi Faraci, was apparently staying with friends she had invited for the holiday. Her parents, who were in another part of the building, survived, the woman's uncle, Antonio Faraci, told the G1 news website.

Nearly 80 other mudslides have been reported throughout the region in recent days. Together with flooding, they have killed at least 64 people - 39 on Ilha Grande and Angra dos Reis and another 22 in other parts of Rio de Janeiro state. Among the dead are toddlers and teenagers, a pregnant woman and many older people, said officials.