Floods in Venezuela devastate lives and idle oil refinery

Dec 01, 2010 12:00 AM

Floods due to torrential rain in Venezuela have left 21 people dead, stranded thousands more and idled an oil refinery. Vice President Elias Jaua said there had been 21 deaths nationwide, with 5,600 people forced to flee from their homes. Authorities confirmed eight deaths in Caracas and nearby states.
“I pray to God to help us,” Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said in a televised speech.

There were long lines in poor Caracas neighbourhoods where officials registered families to be housed in temporary accommodations including hotels, government offices and even the presidential palace. The government declared an emergency in three states and Caracas, cancelling school and opening hundreds of storm shelters.
The storms also caused a power outage that stopped operations at the Cardon oil refinery in Falcon and similar problems forced some units at the Amuay refinery to shut down. The Venezuelan government said that the outages would not affect fuel shipments, as it had adequate supplies on hand.

Many of those killed in Caracas in recent days have been children and adolescents. In some areas where the storms destroyed homes, people gathered their belongings and left.
“The only thing I remember was a loud clamour and the people screaming,” said 60-year-old Ena Romero, remembering when part of a hillside collapsed in her neighbourhood and took other homes with it.

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