Death toll rises to 59 in Bolivia downpours

La Paz, Feb 23 (IANS/EFE) The torrential rains and flooding that have lashed Bolivia for several weeks have claimed 59 lives, affected more than 59,800 families, and some 100,000 cattle have died, government and business sources said Saturday.

Bolivian Defence Minister Ruben Saavedra informed state news agency ABI about the number of fatalities and families affected by the floods, above all in the Amazon region of Beni on the Brazilian border.

“Taking a balance, the number of affected families has risen to 59,800, while 59 individuals lost their lives under different circumstances caused by the rains,” said Saavedra, who Saturday morning accompanied President Evo Morales to deliver boats to rescue livestock in the Beni village of Santa Ana de Yacuma.

Meanwhile, the president of the Beni Stock Raisers’ Federation, Mario Hurtado, told the media that more than 108,000 cattle have died and another 500,000 animals are at risk because of flooding in the region.

He added that stock raisers have lost more than $65 million.

“What is happening, particularly in Beni province, is something never before seen in the history of Bolivia,” Morales said.

He repeated his call to people affected by the floods to find some safe place rather than risk their lives trying to save their goods, and repeated his promise that the government will come to the aid of the stock-raising sector.

According to an official report, Bolivia is receiving help from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Spain, Britain, Peru and organisations like the UN, the Inter-American Development Bank, as well as from private companies like the Spanish oil company Repsol.

Minister Saavedra noted that 450 tonnes of humanitarian aid have been allocated to those affected by the floods, and that of this amount, 230 tonnes have been allotted to Beni.

–IANS/EFE

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