Subj: Venezuela Flood Death Toll Could Reach 30,000
Date: 12/21/99 7:15:39 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: (New Millennium)

December 21 9:45 AM ET

Venezuela Flood Death Toll Could Reach 30,000

LA GUAIRA, Venezuela (Reuters) - The death toll from mudslides and flash
floods that swamped Venezuela's Caribbean coast last week could be as
high as 30,000, authorities said on Tuesday.

"There are unfortunately thousands of people buried in the mud, and the
final number we will never know, the forecast that we have could be
25,000 or 30,000 people," Civil Defense national director Angel Rangel
told the Globovision television network.

The death toll would make it one of Latin America's worst natural
disaster of the 20th century.

Most of the victims were buried under avalanches of mud, rocks and
debris that crashed down a mountain range as torrential rains drenched
Venezuela's Caribbean coast last week.

Worst hit was a 60-mile (100-km) stretch of coast in the state of
Vargas, home to about 350,000 people, an area just north of the capital

Landslides and raging rivers buried entire towns under tons of earth,
boulders and rubble leaving tall buildings marooned in a sea of now
rock-hard debris. Government officials said reconstruction would run
into billions of dollars and take several years.