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Bolivia Flash Floods Leave 22 Dead

February 20, 2002

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LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) _ A powerful thunderstorm raged through northern Bolivia Tuesday, causing flash flooding in La Paz and killing at least 22 people, authorities said.

Most of the dead were swept away by raging flood waters that turned the main downtown street El Prado into a muddy river, said Fire Department chief Rolando Buscara.

One of the victims was a woman selling candy who drowned in a traffic tunnel. Another woman working at a street market was swept away.

Officials said the storm, which also spawn widespread hail, left more than 100 people injured. The city’s General Hospital said the number of victims will probably grow.

The torrential rains caught La Paz residents by surprise, stranding thousands of workers and pedestrians for hours and knocking out electrical power and telephone service in the downtown area.

Scores of residents were forced from homes because of flood damage, police said.

President Jorge Quiroga toured La Paz’s flood ravaged streets and promised government aid for victims.

The government said a swollen river also flooded residential areas in the city’s fashionable South Zone.

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