Thousands Displaced by Floods in Northern Bolivia

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Flooding has forced thousands from their homes in the department of Pando in the far north of Bolivia. Authorities say that 1,069 families have been affected.

Heavy rainfall over the last few days has forced the river Acre to overflow. In some areas it is 14 metres above normal levels. Some residents living close to the river Acre have been evacuated. Levels of the river Tahuamanu are also said to be extremely high.

Further heavy rainfall has been forecast for the next 24 hours and the situation is expected to worsen. Heavy rain is also expected in southern areas of the country.

So far the worst affected area are thought to be the department capital, Cobija, and the small town of San Pedro de Bolpebra, which sits of the banks of the river Acre, on the border with Peru and Brazil.

The Latin Post reports that the mayor of San Pedro de Bolpebra said that his town had been almost completely swept away by flood waters. Quoted in The Latin Post, Mayor Romulo Terrazas said.

“The river waters rose to 14m [46ft] above their normal level, so between the community and the authorities we have decided to rebuild a new town to avoid more damage”

The video clip below shows an aerial view of the flooding from the River Acre around San Pedro de Bolpebra.

Aid Distribution

The national and departmental governments are working together to provide humanitarian assistance to the flood victims. The Bolivian government have distributed blankets and mosquito nets for 600 of the displaced.

25 Killed by Severe Weather Since October 2014

Recent figures from the Bolivian government say that 25 people have been killed in floods or landslides since October 2014. At least 15 people died in floods in January this year.

Since October (the start of the rainy season)  more than 20,000 families have been affected in 76 municipalities of 9 departments, with 39 municipalities calling a state of emergency. As many as 313 houses and more than 13 000 hectares of crops were damaged. The worst affected departments since October 2014 are La Paz, Chuquisaca and Cochabamba.

With continued heavy rainfall, the country is fearing a repeat of the terrible floods of February 2014, which were some of the worst the Bolivia has seen. At least 56 people died in the floods, which also killed 150,000 cattle, destroyed 43,000 hectares of farmland and affected 58,000 families. The region of Beni was particularly badly affected.