The Heat Is Online

Thousands Homeless in Bolivia From Weeks of Rain

Weeks of heavy rains leave thousands homeless in Bolivia

The Boston Globe, Feb. 7, 2001

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) Weeks of rain, the heaviest to hit Bolivia in recent years, have driven thousands from their homes across the country, the government said Tuesday.

News reports said at least 20 people have been killed as a result of the steady downpours, but no official figures were available. The South American nation has a population of 8 million.

The government said the floods have caused housing problems for at least 45,000 families and caused millions of dollars worth of damage to crops. Thousands of houses were damaged beyond repair.

Classes have been suspended in several major cities where schools were damaged or were being used to shelter the homeless. In the capital, La Paz, 16 schools were closed indefinitely because they were damaged by water and could collapse, the acting mayor said.

The United Nations and several countries have sent food and other emergency aid. The United States sent an airplane to carry aid to remote areas that have been isolated by flooded roads, but Defense Minister Oscar Vargas said bad weather has made it hard to reach some areas even by air.

The Pan American Health Organization has offered help to fight the threat of epidemics of stomach diseases, malaria and yellow fever in the most affected areas, authorities said.