Latin America & Caribbean

Bolivia flooding displaces thousands in Pando province

A boy carries a gas cylinder in Cobija on 24 February, 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption People in Cobija tried to salvage whatever possessions they could from their flooded homes

Flooding has forced more than 4,000 people from their homes in the town of Cobija in northern Bolivia after the river Acre burst its banks.

Heavy rains have also caused the nearby river Tahuamanu to burst its banks.

Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera travelled to Cobija on Tuesday to deliver aid to the town.

He said some of the neighbourhoods located closest to the river would have to be moved and promised government help to relocate their residents.

The mayor of San Pedro de Bolpebra, on the border with Peru and Brazil, said his town had been almost completely swept away by floodwaters.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The streets of Cobija in northern Bolivia turned into canals after the river Acre burst its banks
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Flooding occurs regularly in this region, but the rains in the past weeks have been particularly heavy
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Families displaced by flooding have been taken to improvised shelters such as sports centres

"The river waters rose to 14m [46ft] above their normal level, so between the community and the authorities we have decided to rebuild a new town to avoid more damage," Mayor Romulo Terrazas said.

Cobija resident Jhenny Huasimave told La Razon newspaper that she had lost "almost everything" and was staying in a shelter in a local sports centre.

"We're looking after the little we have left and are sleeping in the stands," she said.

"But our situation is a sad one, it's too crowded, we need help," she added.

Vice-President Garcia said the government would send more help in the coming hours.

Bolivia's Amazon lowland plains are subject to flooding every year during the January-March rainy season, but the flooding this year is some of the worst, meteorologists say.

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