More Rains Feared As Death Toll Rises In Brazil

By: By RICARDO MORAES Associated Press Writer
By: By RICARDO MORAES Associated Press Writer

BLUMENAU, Brazil (AP) - Forecasters warned Friday that yet more
rain could fall this weekend on waterlogged southern Brazil, raising fears of renewed mudslides in a region where at least 100 people have died due to storms.

Santa Catarina state's civil defense department said in a statement that mudslides killed most of the victims, with floods killing most of the rest. Nineteen people were still missing and at least 78,000 people in 14 cities were still forced to shelter with relatives or friends or in churches, schools and other public buildings.

After surveying large areas hit by the mudslides, experts at Sao Paulo's Technological Research Institute said tragedy could strike again because the earth is still saturated with water.

"The stabilization of the soil is extremely precarious and if there is more rain, then there could be more mudslides," the institute's Luiz Antonio Gomes was quoted as saying in the Santa Catarina government's Web site.

Meteorologists predicted at least some chance of rain on Saturday and Sunday.

Volunteers and troops were scrambling to distribute tons of medicine, food, water and clothes to people in a region where power outages contributed to a lack of clean water and fresh food.

The government-owned bank Caixa Economica Federal announced it
would provide 1.5 billion reals ($652 billion) in loans for people and businesses in the disaster zone so they can buy goods like construction materials and appliances.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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