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Wednesday, September 16, 1998 Published at 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK

World: Americas

More than 400 dead in Mexico floods

Suplies are being brought in by boat

More than 400 people are now reported dead following a week of floods in the south of Mexico.

BBC's Lynne Matthews: Government is struggling to cope despite it's biggest ever relief operation
The government has called it the worst disaster to face the country since an earthquake killed 10,000 in 1985.

And rescuers say they are concerned about the spread of disease, because more than 500,000 residents are without adequate drinking water, medicines and electricity.

[ image: The floods have receded leaving a sea of mud]
The floods have receded leaving a sea of mud
Several hundred others are said to be missing following the torrential rains, floods and mudslides which swept through the region.

About 30,000 are homeless in the country's worst floods for more than four decades.

Many communities are still cut off as roads have been torn up and bridges downed hampering the government's relief efforts.

Planes and helicopters have flown in some medical aid and food. However poor weather has suspended many flights.

Towns buried under mud

The death toll is expected to continue rising. A Mexican government report says up to 850 bodies may be buried under a sea of mud left by the floods.

[ image: President Ernest Zedillo: Under fire]
President Ernest Zedillo: Under fire
Some remote hamlets and small towns have been almost entirely buried in up to 12ft of mud, with only rooftops of houses or church steeples showing.

In the town of Valdivia, villagers reported as many as 100 people missing.

The Mexican President, Ernesto Zedillo, has visited the southern state of Chiapas three times to see the effects of torrential rain and floods and promised aid on television.

However, opposition groups have accused the authorities of distributing supplies in return for votes - a charge rejected by Mr Zedillo.

The Zapatista National Liberation Army rebels declared war on the Mexican Government more than four years ago as part of a campaign to improve the lot of indigenous Indians in southern Chiapas.

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