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Mexican City Flooded With Sewage

June 3, 2000

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Thousands of residents of the capital’s sprawling Chalco suburb spent a third day inundated in sewer water Saturday, as authorities promised to seal the banks of an open sewage canal that flooded their homes earlier this week.

The flood, in which heavy rains forced the foul-smelling canal to break its banks Thursday, has proved an embarrassment to Mexico’s ruling party, which has touted its efforts on behalf of this low-income suburb just east of Mexico City.

President Ernesto Zedillo, who has tirelessly toured disaster zones in recent years, stayed away from Chalco, where 4,700 people were forced from their homes by several feet of fetid of fetid floodwaters. Instead, he gave a speech on education in Mexico City.

Government employees spread quicklime around the area as pumps worked futilely to lower the level of the contaminated water, which has become a health risk.

Residents told local media that contact with the water has begun to cause skin irritations. Piles of dead sheep and dogs have also begun to appear in the area.

The flood continued to block the main highway out of Mexico City to the east, and vehicles were forced to make an hours-long detour.

Authorities said they would begin to seal the breech Saturday with cement, allowing the waters to gradually recede. The National Water Commission, which is responsible for the canal, said it would reinforce the waterway’s banks.

Mexico City pumps much of its sewage, untreated, through former river beds. Residents of Chalco accused the water authority _ part of the federal government _ of not providing proper maintenance for the canal.

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