Families in southern Brazil on Saturday began to bury victims of a cyclone that left at least 42 dead and affected some 150,000 people, many of whom lost their homes or faced isolation because of landslides that washed away roads and bridges.
In the cemetery of Muçum, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, mourners wept and hugged one another as loved ones were buried.
Pallbearers carried caskets through mud and puddles left by the storm.
The heavy rains and strong winds that hit the area last week tore away stone slabs weighing several tons and opened up tombs, some of which were flooded with mud.
Fabiano Bolnr, a 48-year-old policeman, lost his aunt, uncle and cousin. He said his cousin escaped flooding but returned to try to save his parents.
All three were buried Saturday.
"They had already been through several floods; they had even moved to a house on higher ground. But unfortunately, the waters came back and this time they took them away," he told AFP.
Muçum was hit harder by floods and landslides than any other municipality in Rio Grande do Sul. Authorities Saturday night raised the death toll from the cyclone to 42 people and said 46 remain missing.
Relatives of nine victims had to go to the neighboring town of Vespasiano Correa to say their last goodbyes in an emotional ceremony in the municipal gymnasium.
"I thought the worst was over, but I think this is really the worst moment, the moment of farewell and collective farewell," the mayor of Muçum, Mateus Trojan, told AFP.
On the main street of Muçum, piles of red brick and wood were all that was left of houses that once stood. Mounds of corrugated metal roofing, splintered lumber, broken furniture, sodden clothing and wet mattresses were strewn along muddy roads.
Amid a search for the missing, access to the city was restricted. Of the 46 people still missing, 30 were from Muçum.
Elsewhere in the city, men on tractors or aboard heavy machinery moved debris. Groups of women carried food to volunteers and rescue workers.
At the cemetery, floral bouquets brightened the grim scene, sitting on muddy sidewalks as bereaved families gathered to place caskets of loved ones in burial niches.
Pope Francis on Saturday expressed his solidarity with the affected communities, according to a telegram in Portuguese from the Vatican secretary of state's office.
The pontiff "offers prayers for the eternal rest of the fatal victims as well as prayers for the homeless families, wishing that the reconstruction of the affected localities may take place quickly and efficiently."
The cyclone, which affected 88 localities in Rio Grande do Sul, caused economic losses of more than $270 million, according to the National Confederation of Municipalities.