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Mudslides kill 537 in Brazil

Survivors of mudslides that killed at least 537 people in a mountainous area north of Rio de Janeiro streamed into the center of Teresopolis on Friday, pleading for their loved ones to be rescued, or for their bodies to be recovered.

Many were disheartened by the response. Rescuers resumed efforts after morning rains, but residents said not enough manpower or resources were available.

Amauri Souza, 38, said a few helicopters are reaching remote areas, but "they're only taking down the wounded." He said officials were not dropping off body bags, food or water, and that he feared the consequences if aid did not arrive soon.

"The water is rotten, but people are forced to drink it. There is no food. I had meat in my house, but it's all gone bad," Souza said.

He said he pulled his wife and 6-month-old daughter onto higher ground just as the avalanche of water, mud and stone hit early Wednesday. But his wife's parents were lost -- he heard their screams for help as they were washed away. Their bodies hadn't been found Friday.

Officials fear the death toll could rise once remote areas are reached. Authorities did not offer an estimate on the missing, but local reports put it in the hundreds.

No central repository has been set up for information about survivors and missing people, said Carla Monica Tomazetto, a city worker using a microphone to call out the names of those being sought by relatives just outside a shelter for those who lost their homes.

Survivors questioned their government's efforts before and after torrential rains unleashed the mudslides. A United Nations disaster expert said many of the deaths were avoidable. But local officials have said the deluge unleashed such floods and slides of such power that destruction was inevitable.

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