TERESOPOLIS, Brazil — The power was out, but lightning flashes illuminated the horror as villagers watched neighbors' homes vanish under a wall of mud and water, turning neighborhoods into graveyards. Survivors dug at the earth barehanded Thursday, but all they found were bodies.
It was a scene of muddy destruction in mountain towns north of Rio, where at least 464 people were killed when torrential rains unleashed mudslides in the pre-dawn hours Wednesday, burying people alive as they slept. Officials would not venture guesses on how many people were missing — but fears were high that the death toll could sharply rise.
In the remote Campo Grande neighborhood of Teresopolis, now accessible only by a perilous five-mile (eight-kilometer) hike through mud-slicked jungle, family members pulled the lifeless bodies of loved ones from the muck. They carefully laid the corpses on dry ground, covering them with blankets.