|© AP Photo/Rocio|
|Families evacuate a stricken area of Tabasco after a week of heavy rains unleashed massive flooding in south-eastern Mexico.|
By Monica Sayrols
MEXICO CITY, Mexico, 2 November 2007 – The worst flooding in more than 50 years has affected more than 1 million people – an estimated one-third of them children – in the south-eastern Mexican state of Tabasco.
Thousands of families are trapped in their homes with difficult access to food or medicine; or stranded, having been forced out of their homes by floodwaters – with limited access to safe drinking water in either case.
In what is being described as one of the worst natural disasters in the country’s history, emergency teams are trying to rescue families stranded on rooftops and scrambling to provide them with emergency shelter. The state has been placed on high alert and forecasters are predicting heavy rains through the weekend.
State of emergency declared
“The situation is extraordinarily grave,” said Mexican President Felipe Calderón in a national broadcast after visiting Tabasco. Mr. Calderón went on to make a general appeal for help through donations in banks and contributions of supplies such as water, canned food, basic medical supplies, clothes and cooking items.
|© El Universal News Agency|
|Arial view of flooded streets in Mexico’s Tabasco State.|
A state of emergency has been declared across Tabasco. Governor Andrés Rafael Granier Melo said the situation in Tabasco is “similar to the floods in New Orleans in 2005, devastated by Hurricane Katrina.”
The centre of Villahermosa, capital of Tabasco, was evacuated yesterday by the army after the dams on the Grijalva River broke and flooded the city. At the moment, the centre of Villahermosa is totally isolated.
Damage and emergency response
More than half of the state’s residents have been affected by the emergency, and 36 per cent of the population in Tabasco is under the age of 18. According to reports, all of the state’s crops are underwater and 70 per cent of its schools have been damaged
“UNICEF has stocks ready and is preparing to provide families with emergency and education supplies to support the national relief efforts,” said UNICEF Deputy Representative in Mexico Daniel Camazón. “UNICEF has also offered assistance in terms of psychosocial recovery of children, and support to local authorities in order to ensure classes resume as promptly as possible and in the best possible conditions.”
The Ministry of Health expressed its concern for the high risk of epidemics, such as cholera, dengue and other gastrointestinal diseases. The United Nations Emergency Team in Mexico is also coordinating efforts to assist the state of Tabasco.
2 November 2007: UNICEF Deputy Representative in Mexico Daniel Camazón discusses the catastrophic floods in the country’s Tabasco State.