By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

April 9 - The deadly mudslides and rain that have led to the deaths of more than 200 people in Rio de Janeiro will not stop the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics being the best in history, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has promised.

Rain that started on Monday afternoon has continued almost continuously ever since.

Flooding and landslides have killed 256 people, including the latest victims in the shantytown Niteroi, who were victims of a mudslide, and left 11,500 homeless, according to the Civil Defence office.

The chaos caused by the rains has again focussed attention on Rio's poor infrastructure and chaotic slums as it prepares to host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.

But Lula has insisted that international fears that a similar thing could happen during the World Cup or Olympics is misguided.

He said: "It does not rain everyday.

"Neither are there quakes everyday in Chile and Haiti.

"Usually, the months of June and July [when the World Cup and Olympics are scheduled] are calmer.

"Rio is ready to host the Olympic Games and the World Cup, the best the world has ever known."

The Brazilian Government has sent troops and 200 million reais (£73.8 million/$113 million) to help Rio confront the disaster, and the United States said it was donating $50 million (£32 million) to help with emergency aid.

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes signed a decree allowing the city to force residents to leave 158 locations the city deems at risk.

He had already announced this week that the city would remove between 1,500 and 2,000 families from two slums, meeting resistance from some residents' groups.

Lula said: "We can only ask God to make the rain stop, so we can get on with life in the city."

Brazilian Planning Minister Paulo Bernardo said funds were already being marshaled to repair damages from the flooding in Rio and elsewhere.

Bernardo said seven billion reais (£2.58 billion/$3.9 billion) had already been set aside for recovery of flood-stricken areas as part of the Government’s pro-economic growth package.

He said: "So the Government is not predicting - is not foreseeing any type of major hindrance or disaster in this regard because all the measures are being taken.

"We do not foresee any natural disasters during the World Cup or the Olympic Games because they will be held outside the rain season in Rio de Janeiro particularly."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
April 2010:
 Brazilian President promises to improve Rio flood defences before 2016 Olympics
November 2009: Lula wants answers after Rio hit by Brazilian blackout