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Rain and Slides Leave 70 Dead in Rio

February 21, 1988|From Times Wire Services

RIO DE JANEIRO — A savage rainstorm lashed this Brazilian city Saturday, unleashing floods and rockslides that have left at least 70 people dead, rescue officials said. As many as 95 others were feared dead after an avalanche of mud and boulders crashed into a hospital in one neighborhood.

Officials said at least 1,000 people were hurt and 3,150 were left homeless by the storm, which began Friday.

Civil Defense spokesman Bruno Avila said at least 70 people were known dead, but that number is expected to grow because of mudslides in dozens of shantytowns that line mountainsides in this city.

Avila also said that 80 to 95 people were feared dead after a mudslide knocked down one three-story wing of the Santa Genoveva Hospital.

"It was awful. All my friends were dead in an instant," Maria Teixeira, one of 350 patients evacuated from the two other wings of the hospital, told a TV interviewer as she lay in a stretcher.

The four-hour downpour dumped nearly 5 inches of rain on Rio.

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