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Rio Hotel Mudslide Horror, As Landslides Kill 60

PTI 03 Jan 2010, 8:15:11 IST

Rescuers pulled more bodies from an avalanche of thick mud and rock that buried a luxury hotel filled with New Year's revelers, as southern Brazil landslides claimed about 60 lives.

The death toll from the hotel tragedy on Ilha Grande, a resort island southwest of Rio, rose to 26.

State officials said another landslide in the nearby city of Angra dos Reis south of Rio left at least 13 people dead, part of a series of mudslides brought on by incessant rains that have killed at least 60 people across the state of Rio de Janeiro since Wednesday and left dozens missing.

Authorities said the Hotel Sankay was full to capacity with about 40 guests, including children, ringing in the New Year at the idyllic seaside getaway on Bananal beach.

The complex is nestled at the bottom of a jungle-covered hillside which gave way before dawn Friday on New Year's Day, transforming the tourist paradise into an unimaginable hell.

"It was a deafening noise, I've never heard anything like it -- a loud thunder that wouldn't stop," Felipe Gomes Martins, a hotel neighbor, told Brazil news website G1.

"There was a lot of earth, mud, trees -- trees falling and taking away everything," said Martins, 32, who described how he and his father helped rescue some 60 people as the landslide swamped the area.

Rio's deputy governor Luiz Fernando Pezao said it was "a vision of horror," describing it to CBN radio as "a mountain of rocks and trees covering various homes." (AFP)