Heavy rains kill at least 7 in Rio de Janeiro state, 4-year-old rescued after 16 hours under mud

PETROPOLIS, Brazil (AP) — Heavy rains in Rio de Janeiro state have killed at least seven people, authorities said Saturday, while a 4-year-old girl was rescued after more than 16 hours under mud.

The girl was pulled out alive in the city of Petropolis, 69 kilometers (43 miles) north of Rio. Rescue teams had to stop their work Friday night because of risks of new landslides in the region.

The girl's father died as a house was knocked to the ground. She survived because he protected her with his body, members of rescue teams said. Three more people died in the same place.

“My son was a warrior, he spent all that time there and saved his little daughter,” Roberto Napoleão, the grandfather of the girl, told journalists. “You can't imagine what it is like to lose a son. It hurts so much.”

Mayors in the state and Gov. Claudio Castro had alarmed residents of potential problems for the weekend since Thursday.

Firefighters have struggled to reach those hit by heavy rains, many of them residents of long endangered areas. Sniffing dogs were also part of the rescue efforts. Almost 100 people had been saved, authorities said.

Local authorities in Teresopolis, close to Petropolis, said that one person was still missing after the heavy rains.

Meteorologists say the heavy rains that hit Rio state are moving towards the neighboring state of Espirito Santo.