The Beni River in Rurrenabaque (northern Bolivia) has overflowed its banks, flooding 40% of the area, washing away homes and paralyzing tourism in this popular destination. Mayor Yerko Núñez Negrete reported that 500 families have lost everything, 40% of the town's urban area is under water, 70% of crops have been lost, and at least 15 nearby communities are flooded and isolated.
Authorities are using schools as temporary refuges and the Bolivian Air Force sent an airplane with eight tons of food and medicine for flood victims in Rurrenabaque and San Buenaventura.
Comercio street, which runs along the Beni River for 2 kilometers and is the most active commercial, tourist and hotel zone, is in ruins: 12 hotels and numerous discoteques, clothing stores, fishing and camping equipment stores, and souvenir shops have closed their doors and/or lost much of their merchandise.
One of the most surprising images is that of the Madidi Boa, a restaurant/boat that floated on the Beni River. It was one of the most popular forms of entertainment in Rurrenabaque. It now lies on its side, silent and broken on a beach covered in mud and debris.
San Buenaventura, across the river from 'Rurre', is also flooded and the panorama there is very similar.
Source: El Deber, Santa Cruz, 25 Feb. 2011 -