Rio Rains Close Christ the Redeemer to Tourists For First Time Ever

Christ the RedeemerRio’s towering Christ the Redeemer statue and one of the city’s most iconic tourist attraction has been closed to the public after landslides that hit the city killing some 250 people leaving thousands homeless.

The statue sits upon Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca National Park and is visited annually by over two million tourists.

Access to the statue was cut off for the first time in its 80-year history as roads were blocked by debris.

The city that is to host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 is still struggling with the after effects of some of the worst rains in decades.

Torrential downpour destabilized the many hillsides that make up the city’s mountainous terrain, an area which is home to a collection of precarious favelas (shanty towns).

More bodies have been uncovered as rescue workers search through the wreckage of the shanty towns buried after the rainfall caused the deadly mudslides.

Authorities admit the death toll may rise as 200 people are still missing. They have also warned that further landslides are possible, given the saturated soil.

Analysts say ramshackle shanty towns built on steep hills are most at risk. Most of the landslide victims were residents of favelas, where about a fifth of Rio de Janeiro’s population live.

On Tuesday, search crews found more bodies buried in homes by a massive landslide that hit a shanty town outside Rio de Janeiro city.

The iconic Christ the Redeemer statue built in 1931 was named one of the new wonders of the world in 2007.

Tijuca National Park’s Park director Bernard Issa said he hoped the statue would reopen “within one or two months”.

The statue is currently undergoing a refurbishing process in anticipation of the coming international events.

The landslides in and around Brazil’s second biggest city were set off by downpours that began over a week ago and were the area’s heaviest rainfall for decades.

Meanwhile city authorities are implementing a plan to remove residents from some of the most precarious favelas sitting on the steep hills. Once evacuated the housing is demolished.

The federal and state governments have promised hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to help clear the city and avoid future catastrophes.

Mercopress

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