More torrential rain in Brazil raises death toll to 54


Belo Horizonte (Brazil) (AFP)

Another torrential downpour left the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte paralyzed Wednesday, with ruined cars abandoned on streets cake with mud, as the death toll from days of violent weather reached 54.

Another 47,000 people across Minas Gerais, the southeastern state where the city is located, have been forced from their homes since the rains began on Friday, civil defense officials said.

Tuesday evening's downpour was nothing short of spectacular: 117 millimeters (nearly five inches) of water in three hours.

Part of the roof of a shopping mall collapsed but no one was hurt. Torrents of muddy water rushed down streets, dragging cars with them, tearing up pavement and devastating the city of 2.5 million people.

With the new precipitation, January saw 930 milimeters of rain in Belo Horizonte, making it the wettest month here since record keeping began in 1910, the civil defense department said.

"We saw a wall of water that swept away cars and people," said restaurant waiter Bruno Almeida.

"Luckily I was able to rescue everyone and I carried three or four of them on my back."

The state civil defense department said the death toll since Thursday night stood at 54, with 46,860 forced from their homes.

The weather forecast for the next few days is for cloudy skies and scattered downpours.