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Dozens killed in Colombian floods

Dozens of people have been killed and thousands have abandoned their homes as floods and mudslides ravage Colombia and Venezuela.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday urged nearly 500 people to evacuate from the vulnerable hillside of a poor Medellin suburb where a landslide killed dozens as it buried about 30 homes.

The bodies of 36 victims have been recovered from Sunday’s disaster. Authorities say about 90 people remain missing.

Santos on Tuesday visited the stricken suburb of Bello, about 250km northeast of Bogota, and told reporters the landslide was a tragedy waiting to happen. He promised to build 1,000 homes for at-risk families in the town, where officials say between 80 and 100 homes are in danger.

Meanwhile, authorities in Venezuela evacuated 5,000 more people from high-risk areas, bringing the total number of Venezuelans displaced by weeks of rain to more than 106,900, Defense Minister Carlos Mata Figueroa said Tuesday. At least 35 people have been killed by flooding and mudslides.

Venezuelans washed out of their homes are staying at more than 700 shelters, including military installations, he said.

The government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez plans to take care of 10,000 displaced families while it builds more than 20,000 homes within two years, Vice President Elias Jaua told the Caracas-based Telesur television channel on Tuesday. He added that the country’s allies, including Nicaragua, Brazil and Argentina, have pledged donations to help fund the initiative.

It wasn’t immediately clear how much the home-building efforts in Venezuela or Colombia would cost.

The region has been pummelled for more than two weeks by steady rains.

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