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Brazil rescue effort slowed by rain

Efforts to fly rescue helicopters to hundreds of people stranded by massive mudslides from flooding in a region north of Rio de Janeiro have been hampered by further rain.

As the death toll rose to 633 in a disaster that has left thousands more homeless, officials in Brazil focused their attention on the survivors they could reach more immediately, mapping out a plan to get people into safe affordable housing in the coming months.

The mayor of Teresopolis, a city where more than 3,000 people have been left homeless, said that more than 2,000 tents were being brought in, each capable of sheltering up to 10 people.

Jorge Mario Sedlacek said: "They will give families shelter for up to six months while more permanent solutions can be developed. These tents will at least re-establish the family units, which will bring some comfort to people living in communal shelters."

A local business has offered land on which to set up the tents, and crews have begun working to level the ground. The city is also studying the option of erecting modular homes, which can be set up within a few days.

Even before the disaster struck, the city had requested federal funds to build affordable, safe housing, in a region notably lacking in both.

More than 72 million dollars (£45 million) has since been approved for Teresopolis and will be used to build homes and shore up areas at risk for more slides, Mr Sedlacek said.

Two other towns hit by the disaster - Petropolis and Nova Friburgo - have also won federal funding, and the federal government also offered to pay the rent of 2,500 families for an indeterminate period.

Authorities will also map out and evacuate high-risk areas where residents are holding on to their homes, and Alexandre Aragon, head of the Brazilian National Security Force, said: "The priority is the rescue of people who are still isolated. We have to take advantage of this break in the weather to help people in these remote, collapsed areas."

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