Venezuela's government has sent military helicopters and patrol boats to evacuate thousands of coastal residents stranded by torrential rains and flooding that left at least 14 people dead.

The rescue operation is taking place in the northern state of Vargas. It is the same area where heavy rains and flooding more than five years ago left thousands dead.

President Hugo Chavez visited the coastal state on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the severe weather forced the government to declare a state of emergency in northern coastal areas as well as the capital, Caracas.

The rains are expected to continue for at least two more days but with less intensity.

Some information for this story provided by AP and Reuters.