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article imageSituation deteriorates in flooded Colombia

By Lynn Morris     Dec 21, 2010 in Environment
Hundreds of people have died and millions more are affected by severe flooding in Colombia and Venezuela.
The situation is getting worse and may deteriorate further before it improves.
ReliefWeb reports that 260 people have died in floods and landslides over the last few weeks while hundreds of thousands have been displaced from their homes in the worst floods in 40 years.
UK based charity Shelterbox has committed 800 boxes of emergency supplies and tents to Colombia.
Mark Dyer from the charity is in Colombia and said more flood damage is being reported daily.
He told the BBC: "The situation has not improved for the three weeks I've been here; in fact it's become worse. Provinces throughout the country are reporting more flood damage on a daily basis."
He added that the weather reports show no break in the daily rains until April or May next year.
Flooding has been affecting Colombia and neighbouring Venezuela for the last eight weeks. Millions of acres of farmland are flooded and many roads and bridges have been washed away. Some towns and villages are now only accessible by boat.
Colombia’s Atlantic coastline was flooded after a levee along the Dique canal that connects Cartegena Bay with the Magdalena River broke in late November. A team of US Army engineers is helping with repairs.
The BBC reports 600 schools have been damaged and more than 300,000 students are unable to attend lessons.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos declared a state of emergency and said the floods were an ‘unprecedented tragedy’.
The United Nations will send Colombia US$6million in aid. But relief agencies say more is needed. The floods are estimated to have caused more than US$5billion of damage.
Save the Children is warning that 500,000 children are at risk of hunger.
The charity’s Emergencies Manager, Matt Wingate said: "Many family homes have been submerged forcing them out with nowhere to go and nothing to eat. Sanitation systems have been destroyed and clean water is increasingly hard to find, leaving children at risk of diarrhoea and other water borne diseases. Huge pools of dirty water also create a breeding ground for diseases such as malaria to which children are particularly vulnerable."
Snakes washed up by the floods are another problem and ReliefWeb is reporting 4,000 people have been bitten by snakes and 27 killed.
President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez has blamed climate change for the severe rains and accused the West of ‘criminal capitalism’.
More about Colombia, Venezuela, Flooding, Malaria, South america
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