The Floods That Destroyed Rural Venezuela (1999)

When The World Became Mud (1999): In December 1999 the Vargas tragedy, flash floods and debris flows, killed thousands in Venezuela. Dutch TV were the first to travel beyond Caracas. They brought back a story which for the first time illustrated the enormity of this disaster in the Venezuelan countryside.

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A fortnight after the Dec 15th disaster the village of Carmen de Uria has been wiped out. Life has been silenced. Very few have survived and some of those who did wish they hadn’t. Villagers speak of their tragedy. “We didn’t know what to do. It was an unchained monster. We survived it by a miracle. Our eyes are full of tears. I don’t know what to do any further.” The bodies of their neighbours lie buried beneath a thick layer of mud and rubble. Their remains will not be excavated. There are too many. Elsewhere, 20 storey buildings stand out of a sea of devastation: the lower buildings of the suburbs have been wiped from the earth. “Most people were standing on the roofs, because the houses were flooded with rubble. They didn’t realise that they must find a safer place. In the end they were dragged along and then buried.” Disasters like this must remind us of the catastrophes that may occur if global warming is allowed to press home its destructive advantage.

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