|People walk on a destroyed road after a landslide in La Paz's Kupini neighbourhood [Reuters]
Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, has pledged to provide new homes to up to 5,000 people left homeless by a massive landslide in La Paz.
Hundreds of homes were destroyed on Sunday as weeks of heavy rain sent hundreds of thousands of tonnes of earth crashing down one of the steep slopes surrounding Bolivia’s Andean capital. The densely populated mountainside neighbourhoods are home to many of La Paz’s poorest residents.
At least 40 people in Bolivia have been killed by flash floods and mudslides in recent weeks. The government declared a national emergency last week due to the torrential downpours which have affected much of the country.
There were no reports of casualties caused by the latest landslide but many residents of the Callapa and Kupini neighbourhoods in the east of the city had lost everything, Morales said after touring the devastated area on Monday.
“Families left homeless, without clothes, must be provided with food,” Morales said, according to Bolivia’s state news agency API.
Bolivian authorities deployed hundreds of troops to assist victims and provided bed, blankets, clothing and food at a nearby school, API said.
“Little by little, we are providing food. Those left with nothing should take this first step for granted,” Morales said.
Morales also promised new homes and financial help for those whose houses had been destroyed. “Certainly the national government is going to deliver homes to families left homeless,” he said.
'I lost everything'
Many residents fled Callapa on Saturday night as cracks appeared in the streets and the entire hill started sliding downwards.
“My neighbours were running around and told me to get out,” Maria Elena Siles, a mother of three, told The Associated Press news agency. “I looked out the window and there were no more homes to the left or the right of mine.”
Siles said her family had been unable to return home because of the risk of further landslides. “I lost everything,” she said.
This year’s rainy season has been particularly severe across South America.
Over the past few months, no less than eight countries have been hit by flash floods and mudslides. Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay have all suffered while Guyana is battling against coastal flooding.
Further landslides in La Paz could damage wealthy suburbs built on the city’s lower slopes, such as Irpavi, Pampahasi and Callapa Kupini, API reported.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies