Bolivia Mudslides Bury Mountainside Village, Killing 4; 9 Missing

Monday, 10 Feb 2014 11:38 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Mudslides in central Bolivia decimated most of a mountainside community, killing at least four people while nine others remain missing, officials said Sunday.

Bolivian rescuers and first responders arrived at Cochabamba, 135 miles east of La Paz, on Sunday to find additional survivors, according to the Associated Press. 

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Morochota official Jimena Alegre said the mudslide on Saturday night destroyed the homes of about 15 families in the community of Quechua in Chuypakasa. Heavy rains and flooding sparked the mudslides.

Bolivian authorities said nearly 47,000 families have been displaced since heavy rains turned much of the central South American country into a swampland beginning in November.

Bolivia's state-controlled news agency reported Sunday that 40 people have died over the past two weeks, 10 of them in the Amazon area of Rurrenabaque because of mudslides.

Reuters reported that more rain was predicted in the country, potentially making conditions worse. The Bolivian Ministry of Defense said the Army was helping evacuate families from the most affected regions and getting food to displaced families. 

About 100,000 head of cattle are struggling to find higher ground from the flooding and some 6,000 hectares of crops have been destroyed.

The rain has damaged more than 100 municipalities, with the central and northern regions of the country hardest hit, Al Jazeera reported. 

Captain Jose Ramiro Prado Flores told Reuters this weekend that they will try and reach communities near the Secure River.

"We're on our way to Santa Maria together, it's about a 39-hour journey and there we will distribute the aid which is rice, sugar, noodles, oil and flour to all coastal communities of the Secure River," Flores said.

Medical officials said they are trying to reach residents to prevent the spread of disease in areas damaged from the flooding, reported Al Jazeera.

"This is a hospital boat that will provide medical services, that will assist also in giving food but could also evacuate people voluntarily is they would like to go back to the city of Trinidad or any community that could have them in healthy conditions," Presidency Minister Juan Ramon Quintana said.

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