Government to declare half of Bolivia disaster area
LA PAZ, Bolivia (Reuters) -- Bolivia's lower house passed a bill on Tuesday
declare almost half the country a natural disaster zone, a move which will free up
aid and funds for some 20,000 people affected by almost a month of heavy rain.
Once the government signs the bill, the departments of La Paz, Oruro, Beni
Cochabamba will be officially declared natural disaster areas and open to
millions of dollars in federal relief funds.
The Andean country's national weather service estimates some 6.7 gallons
liters) of water per 1.2 square yards (1 square meter) have rained down on
average per day the past weeks in La Paz, the worst affected area, and expects
the rains to continue.
The first two months of the year are usually the rainy seasons in this
landlocked South American
country which is twice the size of France.
Bolivia's Civil Defense agency reported two dead from flooding and that
some 20,000 people in the
country of 8 million had been seriously affected -- many left homeless -- by the flooding.
The Civil Defense added that it had already asked international organizations
the Red Cross and World Health Organization for help.
About 140 miles (230 km) south of La Paz in Oruro, the Paria and Tagarete
rivers overflowed and flooded four towns, destroying dozens of government
built housing for former mine workers.
At least four towns in Beni, near Bolivia's Amazon region, have also flooded
to overflowing rivers.
Copyright 2001 Reuters.