Death Toll Rises to Over 500 in Brazil Landslides and Floods

Torrential rains continued to pour down on Brazil’s Serrana region today, fueling floods and mudslides that have now killed at least 529 people—a total that’s expected to rise, as rescuers continue to uncover new bodies.

“The rain did not stop at dawn and is continuing in the morning, which is making the rescue efforts more difficult,” one fireman told Reuters. “The number of deaths is going to rise quite a bit.”

The extent of the damage exposed major flaws in emergency planning and disaster prevention in a country that aspires to attain developed-nation status in coming years.

It also highlighted the huge challenges that new President Dilma Rousseff faces as she strives to upgrade Brazil's creaking infrastructure before it hosts soccer's World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics two years later.

The floods have not affected Brazil's main export crops -- soy, sugar cane, oranges and coffee -- but likely caused billions of dollars in damage.