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Flooding kills hundreds in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Flooding and mudslides have killed more than 400 people in southeast Brazil, officials said.

Rescuers were bringing in helicopters as the search for survivors continued in the region north of Rio de Janeiro, the BBC reported.

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The World Health Organization's Institute of Legal Medicine said Thursday it has identified 432 victims of the floods in the mountain regions, with more bodies yet to be identified, O Globo reported.

Nova Friburgo reported 199 dead, Teresopolis reported 176 dead and Petropolis reported 35 killed. All are mountain towns.

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Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo said Thursday 250 national forces troops are on their way to the Rio region to help the rescue effort.

"All of solidarity should be paid to the government of Rio and the state's population," Cardozo said. "We add up all the efforts of the federal government to state government so we can get together to mitigate the effects of this."

A river burst its bank in Teresopolis, submerging buildings, while the rainfall set off several mudslides.

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"It's a huge catastrophe, a major disaster," Teresopolis Mayor Jorge Mario said.

Officials in Teresopolis said they believe there could be hundreds more bodies yet to be recovered.

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Heavy rain Thursday hindered rescuers. The rain was expected to continue through much of the day.

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A six-month-old baby was found alive after being trapped for 12 hours in the rubble of a ruined building in Nova Friburgo.

"What happened here was worse than what happened in 2008," said Petropolis Mayor Paul Mustrangi. "There is nothing left. All the houses were hit."

President Dilma Rousseff was to fly over the flooded areas Thursday. On Wednesday she signed a decree authorizing nearly $500 million in emergency aid for the affected areas.

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Thousands of people have been displaced or made homeless by the floods.

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