Thousands of victims in Mexico face flooding, looting

from Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published on 04 Nov 2007
Mexico City_(dpa) _ Flooding continued to cause chaos and despair Sunday in the Mexican state of Tabasco.

Some 80,000 people in 17 towns remained isolated by the floods. Most of them were out of reach for rescue teams and would have to wait for help until the water level falls, the Mexican Navy said.

In the state capital, Villahermosa, there has been plundering, and the situation appeared to be increasingly out of control.

Five people were reported dead by Sunday. Four of them died in the state of Chiapas, where there were severe floods in valleys and mudslides in mountainous areas. One person reportedly died in Tabasco.

Rescue efforts were difficult, particularly in remote areas, said Admiral Sergio Javier Lara, Navy commander in Villahermosa, after flying over the affected regions.

Helicopters cannot land on the roofs of houses, and there are not enough boats and amphibious vehicles to allow rescue teams to reach people closed in by the floods, Lara said.

The national water commission, Conagua, said Sunday that it will likely take days for the water to fall back to normal levels.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon called for foreign assistance in the face of the flooding. Calderon travelled to Tabasco on Sunday for the third time since the flooding started to show his support to victims.

In the capital of Tabasco, which according to authorities was the worst affected city, thousands of people continued to seek refuge Sunday in overcrowded emergency accommodations. And thousands more continued to leave the affected areas for the neighbouring states of Campeche and Veracruz.

However, tens of thousands of people remained on rooftops in the centre of Villahermosa, as they have for several days.

Local press reports said thousands of others were on the streets after being turned down in their search for emergency accommodation.

Food and other donations were being collected across Mexico to send to the affected regions.

Although Calderon ordered the country's security forces to protect these areas, scores of people plundered stores in their search for food. By late Saturday, 35 alleged looters had been arrested.

More than 1 million people in Tabasco have suffered damage to their homes or been forced to flee amid statewide flooding, set off by severe rains. Many flood victims have lost everything they own.

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