The toll could still rise, as civil defence officials said some residents remain missing, a news agency reported. Rescue workers are finding it difficult to reach isolated areas affected by mudslides and flooding. The rainstorm began late on Sunday and continued into the early hours of Monday, leading the local river to burst its banks and to the collapse of several dams.

The sudden floods inundated entire neighbourhoods, and forced hundreds of families to leave their homes. Authorities have said much rebuilding must be done, as power and water supply networks were damaged, and roads and bridges were washed away.

Summer storms are frequent in Brazil, especially in the southeastern and southern regions, and often cause death and destruction in both small towns and the larger cities.

In the small town of Sao Luiz do Paraitinga, also in Sao Paulo state, a major storm in 2010 destroyed several historic monuments and caused the town to suspend its carnival festivities, famous all over Brazil.

In December, the city of Vitoria, Espirito Santo state's capital, and neighbouring towns suffered from a week of rain that left 20 dead.


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