Dozens Feared Dead in Bolivia Mudslides

The Gold-mining village of Chima in northern Bolivia has been declared disaster zone after serious landslides buried hundred of homes and killed at least 14 people on Monday. In a difficult terrain, rescue teams found the 14 bodies, while many hundreds are still missing. The Bolivian Information Ministry said six critically ill victims had been taken for treatment in the capital, La Paz, while others had been taken to hospital in Tipuani, 100 kilometers (60 miles) away. Despite the aid delivered by the US Embassy local newspapers say rescue operations are slow and poorly equipped.

Rescue attempts have been hampered by heavy rain and the difficulty in getting digging equipment to the village, which is 10 hours drive from the capital along a difficult road. The area affected by the disaster lacks for basic services as drinkable water, or communications. Residents have been talking to rescuers via radio.

According to official sources, 40% of the town has been buried by mud and it is impossible, at this stage, to assess the material damaged caused by the tragedy. Equipped with buckets and shovels, hundreds of desperate survivors try to find their relatives buried alive in the mud or to save their belongings.

In Beijing, the Chinese President Hu Jintao expressed on Wednesday his sympathy with Bolivia. In a message to Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, Hu said that on behalf of the Chinese government and people, he expressed sympathy with the Bolivians in the disaster area who suffered human and property losses in the landslide

Regional officials said the disaster may have been caused by gold-mining operations that weakened a nearby mountain. Mining officials also said that the landslide had buried much of the local miners' equipment.

Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina

Photo (La Razon): Rescue workers struggling to reach victims buried by a landslide in northern Bolivia, in which dozens of people are feared dead.

Related links: