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Venezuela Flood
Venezuela Floods

Date: Mid December, 1999, Caracas
Dead: 20,000-30,000
Affected: 600,000
Damage: $15bn

What happened: A fortnight of torrential rains caused flooding and landslides in and around the capital, Caracas, in what was described as the country's worst natural disaster.

Response: It took five days for the International Red Cross to launch an appeal for $2.8m to fly in medical supplies. The World Bank offered $150m one week after the disaster. Some 25 countries, including Cuba, had offered help by December 19. About $27.8m had been pledged by the international community by March.

Verdict: The president was accused of concentrating on his referendum on the new consititution rather than dealing with the flood. Previous governments were blamed for allowing shanty towns to develop in vulnerable areas.

Media coverage: The Venezuelan Government used the internet to appeal for aid and provide information about missing people and shelters. Chat forums on other sites were inundated with requests for information.