The death toll in a series of mudslides in Brazil rose to 53 on Saturday.

The deaths have occurred in Rio de Janeiro and in the outlying areas amid heavy rain over several days, which has brought down hundreds of houses in poverty-stricken favelas. Many neighbourhoods are built precariously on cliffs and hills.

Civil defence authorities said 19 people were killed on the island of Ilha Grande, some 150 km south of Rio de Janeiro, when an avalanche of mud swept over numerous houses and the small Sankay Inn resort on Friday night. It was not clear whether hotel guests were among the dead. Around 40 holidaymakers were celebrating the New Year at the resort.

According to unconfirmed media reports, the owner of the hotel survived, but her daughter was killed.

More than 100 people were assisting in the rescue operations, which were difficult because the affected area could only be reached by water.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he would send marine and naval forces to help in the rescue operations in the remote areas.

More In: International | News