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More Die as Rain-Triggered Mudslides Hit Border City With AM-California Storm

January 17, 1993

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) _ Unrelenting rains killed eight more people on Saturday, including six children, as mudslides slammed into houses and authorities evacuated families below a brimming reservoir.

The deaths brought to 25 the number of people who have died since the first of a series of storms struck Tijuana nearly two weeks ago. Dozens more remained missing in the city immediately across the border from San Diego.

Water up to 3 feet deep flowed swiftly through some Tijuana streets Saturday, cutting off some neighborhoods to all but the most rugged vehicles, said city spokesman Gabriel Rosas.

The threat of more rain prompted officials to evacuate about 60 people living below Rodriguez Dam, southeast of the city, Rosas said.

″We have to take precautions. It’s still raining. It’s not raining hard, but it’s constant,″ he said.

Two children - a 6-year-old girl and a 20-month-old boy - were killed shortly after 3 a.m. when a mudslide crashed through their bedroom wall, said Amado Gallardo, a spokesman for the coroner’s office.

Four hours later, a 3-year-old girl, an 18-month-old boy and their mother were killed when a wall of mud smashed into their house.

In both cases, the mudslides struck in middle-class areas.

Later Saturday, authorities found the bodies of two more children - an 11- year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl - and the boy’s mother. It was unclear how they died.

More than 3,500 people were in 50 city shelters. Officials distributed food, clothing, drinking water and other necessities to flood-damaged neighborhoods, Rosas said.

The rain also washed out three bridges along Highway 2 between Tijuana and Tecate, about 25 miles to the east, said Tecate Mayor Pablo Contrerras Rodriguez. He said about 2,500 Tijuana-bound travelers were stranded.

Mexican troops were bringing food, medicine, earth-moving equipment and portable bridges designed to span flooded canyons.

In one poor, hilly neighborhood, Pablo Morales held a large wooden board across the doorway of his two-room house to keep the water at bay.

″If it rains much more we don’t know what we’ll do,″ Morales said.

The family has been all but stranded for five days except for trips to a nearby emergency food line, Morales said. Friends higher up the hill have been unable to leave their home for days, he said.

At the food line, where canned goods were being handed out the back of a truck, Jose Acosta waited under a piece of plastic.

He and his wife walked more than a mile down the hill to get food, leaving their six children behind at the family’s tiny, leaking, cardboard and corrugated steel house, he said.

″It’s real ugly up there,″ he said. ″The houses are falling in.″

Still, he said he and his wife planned to return home to ride out Saturday night’s rains.

″We have nowhere else to go,″ he said.

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