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Torrential Rains Leave 45 Dead in Northern Mexico

September 24, 1990

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico (AP) _ Rescue workers searched collapsed low-income homes Monday for more victims of flash floods that left at least 45 dead, the Red Cross said. At least 30 others were missing.

″There are still more dead,″ said Alfonso Magallanes Contreras, a Red Cross paramedic and rescuer.

More than 5,000 people were left homeless by the weekend storm, the worst to hit the northwestern city in 90 years, authorities said. More than 5 inches of rain had fallen since Saturday, and the rain continued Monday.

Gov. Fernando Baeza Melendez declared an emergency in and around Chihuahua, the state capital, which was hardest hit by the flash floods, which on Sunday thundered down gullies and a normally nearly dry river that cuts through the mountain city.

″This tragedy that brought mourning to many Chihuahua families will be a mark in history. But we will know how to act. We are going to provide all the help needed to those who have lost their homes,″ Baeza Melendez said.

Rescue workers estimated about 240,000 people in the city of about 600,000 were virtually without water, power or telephones. Sewers in many areas were overflowing, posing health hazards.

Baeza Melendez said that of the 45 victims, 32 had been identified.

More than 350 homes were destroyed, and 1,000 more were damaged, Baeza Melendez said.

″Some homes disappeared completely by the floodwaters from one of the streams,″ Red Cross radio dispatcher Heriberto Perez said in a telephone interview.

In the Colonia Villa neighborhood alone, on the north side of the city, more than 150 houses collapsed, a report from the governor’s office said. About 300 automobiles and other vehicles were also wrecked by the flood.

″A state of alert has been declared, but everything is quiet,″ Perez said, adding that in some places, the water was between 3 feet to 9 feet deep.

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