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April 08, 2010

Travel Safety Alert: Mudslides in Brazil

By WorldNomads

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Overview of the Situation
Following massive thunderstorms in Brazil this week, transport and communications in Rio are all but shut down. Eduardo Paes, the mayor, ordered all schools closed and urged workers to stay home and not visit the downtown area which was inundated with water. Most businesses were also shuttered.

"Each and every person who attempts to enter them will be at enormous risk," Paes said. Adding to the problems, thousands have been left homeless and 90 killed after record rains washed away shanty towns and hillside slums (known as favelas).

Sources: and Al Jazeera, Wed 7 April, 2010

Issues for Travelers
Travelers these days are increasingly looking for authentic local experiences and many travel to the favela slums when visiting Rio de Janeiro. World Nomads blogged about traveling safely in Rio’s favelas in its SafetyHub blog a while back but now, with this recent landslide disaster, there are further safety issues to take into consideration.

Clean Water:
Widespread flooding often also contaminates clean water supplies—when the sewers fill up, everything just flows out.

Frequent hand-washing helps keep germs at bay. (If a traveler becomes unwell within six weeks of returning home and has fever, rash, respiratory illness, or any other unusual symptoms, advise a physician of having just returned from a disaster-affected region.)

Drink only bottled, boiled, or disinfected water. For more information refer to the CDC website.

Getting Out:
Follow all advice from either your medical assistance service and/or local emergency service team and authorities to move to safe zones or transport to take you to the airport for evacuation.

Avoiding Landslides and Mudslides
- If you are in an area prone to landslides and mudslides (i.e. very steep slopes, canyons, high rainfall zones) be aware of any sudden increase or decrease in water level on a stream or creek that might indicate debris flow upstream. A trickle of flowing mud may precede a larger flow.
- Look for tilted trees, telephone poles, fences, or walls, and for new holes or bare spots on hillsides.
- Listen for rumbling sounds that might indicate an approaching landslide or mudflow.
More info is available on landslides on the CDC website.

What is happening to me and who do I call?
- It is important to remember that the situation you are in can be extremely stressful.
- Keeping an item of comfort nearby, such as a family photo, favorite music, or religious material, can often offer comfort in such situations.
- Call home and your country's Consulate or Embassy to let them know where you are, if you are alright, and if you need any assistance.
- Call the emergency assistance hotline for your travel-insurance provider should you need immediate attention.

When you get out of there or get back home
If you become unwell within six weeks of returning with fever, rash, respiratory illness, or any other unusual symptoms seek medical attention and tell them that you were recently in a disaster-affected region.

Read more stories from to help keep you traveling safely. provides travel insurance and travel safety services to residents in over 150 countries, making it an essential part of every adventurous traveler's journey.

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Related Topics: South America Travel · Travel News · Travel Tips


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