Brazilian officials have said more than 800 people have been confirmed dead as entire hillsides collapsed in torrential rains and floodwaters inundated vast tracts of land in the country's southeast over the month.

BBC said more than 400 people are still missing. The disaster is ranked second in terms of gravity, after a meningitis outbreak that killed 1,500 people in 1974, according to United Nations data published in the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, Reuters reported.

The Voice of America (VOA) reported on Sunday the authorities have confirmed the death of 803 people in the mountainous Serrana region north of the city of Rio de Janeiro where days of heavy rains caused hill slides to collapse and houses to get buried under mud. Reuters reported the final death toll could be close to 1,000.

BBC reported about third of all victims were children and adolescents, citing figures compiled by the O Globo newspaper. Meanwhile, The Brazilian government has said it will set up an early warning system to alert people of natural calamities.

VOA reported there is criticism that President Dilma Rousseff's government is not doing enough to provide help to those affected by the floods, most of whom are from poor neighborhoods. The government has allocated about $460 million in emergency aid for the affected areas.

Though a BBC report says there is a decline at the rate at which new deaths are reported, the situation is far from being under control as an epidemic threat is looming large. Three people are known to have contracted leptospirosis, an infectious bacterial disease, which is caused by exposure to water contaminated with rats' urine, the report said.