Floods deluge Suriname villages
Three children are reported missing after flood waters forced thousands to flee their homes in Suriname after heavy rain.
Disaster officials said 175 villages close to the Suriname and Marowijne rivers in southeastern and central Suriname are worst affected.
They said about 25,000 people mostly Maroons, descendants of African slaves, fled their thatched-hut houses for higher ground.
Our reporter in Paramaribo said villagers told him three children were reported missing, believed to have been swept away by the flood waters.
President Ronald Venetiann has declared the area in the remote lowlands a disaster zone.
The defence minister, Ivan Fernald, has sent military and other officials to the interior to help.
He said: "The mere scale of what has happened is unprecedented and we will have to treat it as such."
May is the beginning of the rainy season in Suriname but government forecaster Cor Becker said the amount of rainfall measured in Suriname during the past week was extremely rare.