Latin America & Caribbean

Bolivia: 29 killed in torrential rains so far this year

Aerial view of the locality of Clisa, in Cochabamba flooded by heavy rains on 30 January, 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Cochabamba is among the provinces worst hit by the heavy rains

Officials in Bolivia say the number of people who have died due to torrential rain since the beginning of the year has risen to 29.

More than 35,000 families have been affected by the rains and the flooding, the ministry of defence said.

The worst affected province is Beni, in north-eastern Bolivia, where 10 people have died, followed by La Paz in the north-west and central Cochabamba.

The rainy season in Bolivia usually lasts until March.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Thousands of families had to take refuge in shelters after their homes were flooded
Image copyright AFP
Image caption In some areas, whole communities had to be relocated as the floodwaters rose
Image copyright AFP
Image caption President Evo Morales (with flower garlands) has inspected some of the worst affected areas
Image copyright AFP
Image caption He said some people had resisted evacuation because they did not want to leave their animals behind

The director of Beni's emergency centre, Luis Phillips, warned residents to be on the alert ahead of the next band of rain which is expected to reach the provincial capital, Trinidad, on Friday or Saturday.

The latest victim of the rains was 27-year-old Orlando Portugal, who was drowned after being dragged away by strong currents in the river Moguntuyo, which he was attempting to cross.

Five people remain missing after being dragged away by rivers turned into raging torrents by the heavy rainfall.

A Beni resident said fresh water, medicines and tents were badly needed as many families had lost their homes in the floods.

Twenty-two air force planes are transporting goods to areas which have been cut off.

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