Brazil

Brazil flood death toll rises to 224 - officials

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 11 (Reuters) - The death toll from mudslides and flooding in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro state has risen to 224, its fire department said on Sunday, about a week after heavy rains began pounding the coastal region.

Authorities reported on Friday up to 212 people had died after the rains -- the worst in decades -- triggered mudslides and flooding that devastated poor hillside communities and left thousands homeless in and around Brazil's second-biggest city.

The worst single mudslide occurred Wednesday night when a torrent of mud destroyed houses, stores and churches in a slum built on a former garbage dump in Niteroi, a city located across a bay from Rio.

The Brazilian government has sent troops and allocated 200 million reais ($113 million) to help the state confront the disaster to help the more than 50,000 people made homeless. The United States said on Friday it was donating $50,000.

Rio's mayor, Eduardo Paes, signed a decree allowing the city to force residents to leave 158 locations deemed at risk from the disaster. He had already announced that the city would remove between 1,500 and 2,000 families from two slums, prompting resistance from some residents' groups.

The chaos caused by the rains has renewed attention on Rio's poor infrastructure and chaotic slums as it prepares to host the soccer World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016.

($1=1.78 reais)

(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca and Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Stuart Grudgings and Luciana Lopez; Editing by Paul Simao)

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