|Published:||Jan 15, 2011 9:27 PM EST|
|Updated:||Jan 15, 2011 6:27 PM EST|
TERESOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) - The death toll from this week's mudslides in Brazil has climbed to nearly 600.
Meanwhile, thousands of traumatized survivors have been walking as much as five miles along steep, slippery paths to buy food, water and medicine. Many say they have given up hope that government rescuers will reach their remote mountain villages any time soon.
One man says he lost 23 members of his family, including his wife, his 2-year-old son and his father. He says the water and heat led his father's body to decompose so badly that he doesn't want anyone to look for his wife and child.
Local and state fire departments say they have deployed 2,500 rescuers, while 225 federal police offcers are in the area to maintain order. But residents of the hillside neighborhoods say the few they've seen have not been helping people carry supplies.
The mudslides hit an area of nearly 900 square miles in an area of lush, forested mountains about 40 miles north of Rio.
Hundreds of homeless are finding shelter in a gymnasium in the center of the area's man town (Teresopolis). Food and medical care is abundant there.