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A steady rainfall has caused flooding in Caracas and six other Venezuelan states, leading the government to declare a state of emergency in those states. Late last night, the Minister of the Interior and of Justice, Jesse Chacon, said that so far five people had died in the flooding and over 1,000 homes had been damaged or destroyed, mostly due to landslides.

In Caracas and along coastal areas many major arteries were blocked as rivers flowed over their banks and mudslides blocked traffic. Chacon urged people not to leave their homes on Wednesday, unless necessary, so that the streets would be free for emergency traffic. Also, all schools were declared closed for Wednesday.

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The states for which a state of emergency will be decreed are Miranda, Vargas, Aragua, Carabobo, Falcón, Yaracuy, and the Capital Caracas. The emergency decree will provide funding and other assistance to the affected states more quickly.

While the downpour appears to have stopped in Caracas, Chacon said, “We are in total control of the situation, but we are alert since it is still raining in Vargas state and in other areas of the north central coast.”

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Whenever there are heavy rainfalls in Venezuela, people are concerned that a disaster such as happened in December 1999, when rainfall and mudslides caused over 10,000 deaths, mostly along the country’s coast, could repeat itself.