RIO DE JENEIRIO: Flooding and mudslides killed at least 102 people in southeastern Brazil, authorities said, as the most intense rains in half a century paralysed the Rio de Janeiro area and brought scenes of fear and chaos.

Fire and rescue officials said most of the deaths occurred in hillside slums where heavy rains since Monday triggered devastating mudslides.

Officials said 37 people were killed in Rio but hardest hit was Niteroi, a city on the other side of the bay from Rio, where 53 people died.

Flooding was so intense that authorities urged Rio residents to remain indoors and not venture downtown, where streets were impassable. Some motorists abandoned their partially submerged cars, while others were stranded for hours inside stalled vehicles.