- Title: BOLIVIA: Mudslide forces thousands from their homes
- Date: 4th March 2011
- Summary: VARIOUS OF DONATED CLOTHES BEING DISTRIBUTED IN THE CAMP
- Embargoed: 19th March 2011 10:36
- Location: Bolivia, Plurinational State Of
- Country: Bolivia, Plurinational State Of
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVADHD04GDEAP01D3X6E3DB4QRFN
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: The earth below La Paz continued to slide through the hills of the city on Thursday (March 3) as the massive mudslide which has already killed more than 50 people, destroyed some 1,700 properties and forced at least 6,000 from their homes continued to wreak havoc on the Bolivian capital.
An extensive mud river has consumed at least seven neighborhoods and is threatening homes, schools and hospitals in several others as it pushes earth, rock and anything in its path towards the Irpavi River below.
Victims forced from their homes, either because they were already destroyed or were in danger of collapsing, holed up in makeshift tents where they tried to carry on with everyday activities including cooking and sending the kids off to school.
One victim who lost his home in the disaster, Evaristo Huanca, is living with his family in this tent where he told Reuters life has been difficult since they left their home on Sunday (February 27).
"Living in a tent is a little difficult, right? The kids go to school but we can't do their homework because we don't have light. There is no bathroom to wash-up. We've been without a bathroom since Sunday. We're exhausted," Huanca said.
The Huanca family is just one of thousands left in the street trying to put the pieces back together.
The city has compared the disaster, which it says has already caused $50 million U.S. dollars in damage, to an earthquake and has called it the city's worst ever.
Geologist at the San Andres University, Jose Luis Telleria agrees.
"The disaster that happened in La Paz between Saturday [February 26] night and early Sunday morning is the worst in the history of the country," Telleria told Reuters.
Satellite images show the area affected by the sliding land measures some 140 hectares (345 acres).
According to Telleria the affected land, which lies over a geologic fault discovered decades ago, is unstable and should never have been built on to begin with.
"The force of nature is so strong. But what you can do is forewarn and not build in dangerous areas. All of these dignified people who have the right to a home and a decent life should be relocated to a safer area," Telleria added.
La Paz mayor, Luis Revilla, said there were seven factors that were triggered simultaneously which led to the disaster including a weakening of the slope due to heavy rain from the La Nina season and an inefficient sewer system; river erosion and land movement below structures the soil was unable to support.
Bolivian Civil Defense has said this season's rains have affected 70,000 people throughout the poor South American country.
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