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Venezuela Rain Deaths Rise to 31, Government Says

At least 31 people have died and three people are missing after torrential rains caused floods and landslides across much of Venezuela over the past week, Interior and Justice Minister Tarek El Aissami said.

The government has set up 319 shelter centers for people whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the flooding, El Aissami said, according to a government statement.

President Hugo Chavez, who yesterday offered to shelter victims at the presidential palace, said today that those displaced by the flooding would receive a Christmas bonus. The government will spend 1.18 billion bolivars ($275 million) to build 9,000 homes for those left homeless.

Chavez, speaking on state television, said the Jatira reservoir in Falcon state burst its banks, “flooding villages and breaking bridges and roads.” More than 7,100 families have been made homeless in the western state, according to the statement by El Aissami.

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