Rio de Janeiro Rodrigo de Almeira had dug for 15 hours through mud and debris, and he looked like it. Auburn mud covered his head, his ripped shirt, his torn jeans and his rubber sandals.
When asked Wednesday if he had been able to save anyone from the massive landslide in the slum where he lives, he silently shook his head. Of the 145 people confirmed dead from Rio’s heaviest rains on record, at least 18 died in his shantytown, Pleasure Hill.
“Right there at least 15 people I know died,” Almeira said, staring at a massive mound of mud and debris. Wood planks — remnants of the shacks engulfed by the landslide — poked through the mud as 30 rescue workers gingerly dug at it with picks and shovels, still looking for survivors.
Late Wednesday, an official with the state’s Civil Defense department said a huge mudslide smashed into a slum in Rio’s neighboring city of Niteroi, burying up to 40 homes.