Teresopolis, Brazil (CNN) — The death toll from flooding caused by torrential rains in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro state rose to 591 people Saturday, Brazil’s official news agency reported.
Most of the deaths were reported in the cities of Nova Friburgo and Teresopolis, located in a mountainous region northeast of Rio, according to Agencia Brasil.
Rescuers have not been able to reach some hard-hit areas and many more people are feared dead, the agency said Friday.
The rain is predicted to continue for several days in areas already submerged in water or slathered with mud.
At least 257 people died in Teresopolis, while 267 were killed in the town of Nova Friburgo, Agencia Brasil reported.
She trudged through mud in her rain boots to talk to residents in a neighborhood where four of seven firefighters attempting to rescue people had been buried under mud. Three others were pulled out alive.
Brazilian authorities have been criticized for a lack of disaster planning and allowing people to build homes in areas known to become treacherous in the rainy season.
They are under increasing pressure to show a strong response. Brazil is scheduled to host the World Cup in 2014 and the 2016 Olympics.
State health officials pleaded for people to donate blood that will be sent to the Serrana region, where only 36 units of blood remained for treatment of flood victims.
Rain has affected neighboring Sao Paulo as well, killing 24 people there, authorities said.