Latin America & Caribbean

Hundreds of thousands hit by Mexico flooding

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Media captionResidents in flood-stricken states of Veracruz and Oaxaca travel by boat

Weeks of heavy rain have brought widespread flooding to wide swathes of eastern and southern Mexico.

Hundreds of thousands of people have seen rapidly rising rivers break their banks and inundate their communities.

Authorities have been trying to evacuate the worst-hit areas but some people are refusing to leave, seeking refuge on the roofs of their houses.

Among the most severely affected areas is Tlacotalpan, a colonial-era town declared a world heritage site.

Most of Tlacotalpan's residents have left the town to seek shelter elsewhere in the state of Veracruz, Mexican officials said.

Over the past few weeks, some 200,000 people in Veracruz have been forced to abandon their homes.

'Worst to come'

The torrential rains and subsequent flooding have also affected the states of Tabasco, Chiapas and Oaxaca.

In Tabasco, more than 124,000 people have been affected but many have opted to stay.

Image caption People in Tabasco face frequent floods

"They are refusing to leave their homes and they don't want to go to shelters because they have a culture of living with water," said Tabasco Governor Andres Granier.

"What worries me is that the worst is yet to come for Tabasco. The state and these people cannot keep suffering these problems each year, or live in permanent uncertainty."

Tabasco was the scene of devastating floods three years ago.

During a visit to the state on Tuesday Mexican President Felipe Calderon said the rains in the region during July and August were three and a half times more than usual.

The rainy season does not officially end until November.

The government has pursued flood-control measures in recent years. Mr Calderon said these had helped to avoid a wider disaster but he accepted that more needed to be done.

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