/ The Rio de Janeiro Guide
Rio de Janeiro — By therioguide on April 6, 2010 at 4:38 pm
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Worst Rains in 40 Years hit Rio

Downtown Rio de Janeiro has been brought to a virtual standstill as the heaviest rains in 30 years have brought death and destruction on a horrific scale.

stormSome 80-plus people are thought to have died as a result of the torrential downpours, which began during Tuesday afternoon´s rush hour and did not let up until Wednesday afternoon.

I was in downtown Rio when the heavens opened, and within an hour the city center streets were ankle deep in filthy water. A lack of efficient drainage meant that the situation quickly reached crisis point, and the cit center is currently a no-go area, with Rio mayor Eduardo Paes warning that anyone attempting to manouver the streets will put themselves in severe danger.

Public transport in many areas of the city has ground to a virtual halt, and an offical state of emergency has been declared.

Anyone visiting or planning to visit the city should be prepared for disruption to their travel plans, but should try not to panic. The worst affected areas are the hillside shanty towns, or favelas, where poorly constructed buildings cling precariousl to steep slopes. These buildings are at grave risk of being hit by landslides, but are little visited by the majority o tourists heading to the city.

The city´s mayor Sergio Cabral has now declared an official state of emergency, and visitors are strongly advised to avoid unnecessary travel. Flights in and out of the  city have been heavily disrupted, so delays and cancellations are a distinct possibility for many travelers.

My hillside home may be in the relatively gentile neighborhood of Santa Teresa, but like many others I am now without electricity, but attempting to keep calm and carry on. The extent of the devastation caused raises serious questions about how Rio´s second largest city was so poorly prepared for the downpours, particularly as heavy rainfall is far from uncommon here.

As the city prepares to host the 2014 Football World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, the city´s officials now have some enormous challenges ahead of them.

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