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300,000 in Southern Mexico Wait Rescue From Floods

A week of heavy rain in southern Mexico has left an estimated 70 percent of the state of Tabasco flooded. Only one death has been confirmed, but officials say half of the state's two-million residents have been affected by the disaster. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the situation could get worse.

The rain has come so fast and in such large downpours that the soaked ground in the state of Tabasco has not been able to recover. The weather has improved, but forecasters say more rain could come within a day or two. Rescue workers have taken many people out of flooded areas by boat or helicopter. In some residential neighborhoods, the flood water reaches the rooftops of houses.

Governor Andres Granier said Friday 300,000 people were awaiting rescue from what he called the "shocking" deluge. At least one million people, half the state's population, are affected

Officials in the state's capital city, Villahermosa, say sandbags failed to hold back the raging waters of the Grijalva River, and that the water level in the city center is now between two and six meters.

Many people escaped with only the clothes they were wearing. Only a lucky few were able to carry out much more than a few boxes of prized possessions.

The Mexican government has sent in planeloads of relief supplies, but Red Cross spokesman Edgar Rosas says more is needed.

He says the response from the citizens has been been very good, but he says the flooded state still needs a lot of help, and that the level of disaster keeps growing.

Officials say they still need food, potable water and medicine for the tens-of-thousands of people who are being cared for in shelters. Rescue workers say thousands of people remain stranded in flooded zones. Some people have refused to leave their homes, in spite of the rising water, out of fear that looters will steal the possessions they leave behind.

In addition to the personal losses, the state's agricultural fields have been devastated. Tabasco produces bananas, corn and beans, and crop losses are expected to be in the millions of dollars.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon calls the flooding one of the worst disasters ever to hit his nation, and he has called on the armed forces as well as the federal police to help maintain order and assist in relief efforts. President Calderon also says his government will do whatever is necessary to rebuild the devastated state once the flood waters recede.