January 1, 2002

Brazil rains leave hundreds homeless

                 BRASILIA, Brazil (Reuters) -- Rain destroyed parts of a United Nations
                 World Heritage Site and left two other regions flooded with hundreds
                 homeless as torrential downpours overflowed rivers central Brazil on New
                 Year's eve.

                 There were no reported casualties in the overnight downpours but rains in recent
                 days caused another 10 deaths in addition to the 60 people who died in torrential
                 rains over the Christmas holiday in Rio de Janeiro state, local officials and media
                 reports said on Tuesday.

                 The New Year's downpours hit the historic town of Goias Velho, an old regional
                 capital of central Brazil known for its colonial architecture. The town was named
                 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site last month.

                 A spokesman for the town's municipal government said the river flowed down the
                 main street, flooding the center, including town hall. Several buildings, including the
                 town's main market building were destroyed, the spokesman said.

                 Local television showed images of powerful waters gushing through the
                 cobbled-stone streets in the town's scenic center.

                 In the neighboring central state of Minas Gerais, heavy rains raised the water levels
                 of rivers in at least two regions, flooding hundreds of homes and threatening many

                 Torrential rains have hit many parts of Brazil in the last two weeks and weather
                 forecasters warn the rains could continue in January.

                 The worst rains came on December 23, sparking mudslides that crashed through
                 shanty towns on the outskirts of a mountain resort city near Rio de Janeiro.

                  Copyri ght 2002 Reuters