ONE MILLION PEOPLE EFFECTED BY THE WORST NATURE DISASTER IN MEXICO'S HISTORY
NOV 4 2007
Pray for the safety of these people and that they cry out to the Lord
29,000 square kilometer (11,000 square mile) approximately 110 miles by 110 miles
This disaster makes New Orleans disaster pail by comparison.
Rescuers worked Friday on rescuing hundreds of thousands of people trapped by the worst floods ever recorded in Mexico's southern state of Tabasco, with more than one million resident affected.
The oil-rich state the size of Belgium is now 80 percent underwater, officials said, adding that they expect more rain in the next days.
"New Orleans was small compared to this," said state Governor Andres Granier, comparing the disaster to the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Area rivers continued to swell due to the non-stop rain, and more than 850 towns have been flooded in the Gulf of Mexico state, officials said.
"Of the 2.1 million Tabasquenos, more than half are suffering from this serious problem that has not been experienced in the history of Tabasco," Granier told reporters late Thursday.
But where Katrina killed more than 1,000 people in New Orleans alone, the flooding in Tabasco has only claimed one life so far.
"Around 300,000 people are still trapped in their homes in different locations," Granier said, adding that army and navy helicopters and rescue boats were working on the rescue effort.
Tabasco "is devastated," Granier said of the 29,000 square kilometer (11,000 square mile) state. "100 percent of crops are lost."
Granier warned that the flooding could get even worse as forecasters say a new cold front could bring more rain over the weekend.
President Felipe Calderon, addressed the nation late Thursday, telling Mexicans to donate aid to flood victims.
"The situation is extraordinarily grave," Calderon said, describing the situation as "one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the country."
Many Tabasquenos "have lost their homes, their belongings, their crops, and the means to maintain their children," Calderon said. "Others remain in their homes but with no access to food, water or medicine."
Some 400 doctors and health workers were deployed to more than 300 towns in the region to detect any outbreak of infections, according to Tabasco's Civil Protection agency.
State officials also warned that non-stop rain would continue to result in swollen rivers.
The floods began last week when a cold front brought heavy rain that caused the Grijalva, Carrizal and Puxcatan rivers to burst their banks.
Soldiers and state authorities had placed more than 700,000 sand bags along the rivers to prevent flooding, but the water rose above the barriers.
The floods worsened over the past three days as authorities drained water from two dams in the neighboring state of Chiapas to prevent them from exceeding their capacity.
The water rose again Thursday in the state capital of Villahermosa, which was flooded Wednesday after the Grijalva River burst its banks.
But hundreds of Villahermosa residents refused to leave their flooded homes amid reports of looting in the city of 750,000 people.
"There's no policing," a Villahermosa woman told reporters. "The thieves climb on the roofs and open the doors through there."
In Chiapas, authorities declared a state of emergency in 22 municipalities while 2,500 people have been taken to shelters.
The Federal Electricity Commission also said it was unclear when it would be able to close the spigots in the Penitas dam in Chiapas.
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