Death toll from rains in Brazil reach 665

The death toll from devastating flooding and mudslides in Brazil has climbed to at least 665, as the military intensifies its efforts to reach isolated communities near the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Authorities Monday deployed hundreds of emergency personnel to neighborhoods that have been cut off from help by smashed roads and bridges. Heavy rains in recent days sent an avalanche of mud, water and rocks plowing through towns and villages, causing the country’s worst natural disaster in decades. The rains dumped the equivalent of a month’s precipitation on the affected area in just a few hours. The disaster is the first big challenge to the government of new President Dilma Rousseff, who took power Jan. 1.

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