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11/05/2007

Hungry Mexico flood victims turn to looting

Image: A looter carries electrical appliances taken from a department store across a flooded street in Villahermosa, state of Tabasco. Rescue workers and police were out in force Saturday helping flood victims in Mexico's devastated southern Tabasco state, as food shortages sent hundreds of hungry people on a looting rampage at a shopping center.(AFP/Alfredo Estrella)

VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico (AFP) - Rescue workers and police were out in force helping flood victims in southern Mexico, as food shortages sent hundreds of hungry people on a looting rampage at a shopping center.

Around 80 percent of the Belgium-sized state of Tabasco was flooded after seven rain-loaded rivers burst their banks in the flat, flood-prone region, in its worst natural disaster in decades.

In neighboring Chiapas state, bordering the Pacific Ocean, authorities put 30 townships with more than a million people under a state of alert Saturday after 16 rivers overflowed their banks, and reported one person killed by the floods.

In Tabasco, the floods affected more than half the state's 2.1 million population, and one death has been confirmed so far. Patrols were still searching for victims Saturday.

Many thousands of people were trapped at home. With water as deep as two meters (6.5 feet), many have desperately tried to flee, waiting as long as three days for a rescue-boat pickup from their rooftops or as they clung to tree branches.

Thousands poured into neighboring states Chiapas and Veracruz seeking refuge.



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