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March 20, 2014
Bolivia Experiences Excessive Flooding

This natural-color image of Bolivia’s Beni and Mamoré rivers was acquired by NASA’s Aqua satellite on Feb. 17, 2014. Sediment-laden flood and river water appears brown, while floodwater with less sediment appears black.

Residents of Bolivia’s low-lying Beni region are accustomed to flooding, but the floods Bolivians faced in February 2014 were unusually severe.

This image, acquired by NASA’s Terra satellite, shows conditions along the Beni and Mamoré rivers under more typical conditions on March 28, 2013.

Every February and March, rivers routinely burst their banks due to melting snowpack in the Andes Mountains and near daily rainstorms associated with the wet season.

Weeks of heavy rains caused the Beni and Mamoré Rivers to swell, swamping more than 40,000 hectares (100,000 acres) of land. According to media reports, floodwaters killed at least 60 people and damaged the homes of more than 60,000. Large numbers of livestock also were affected. Preliminary estimates suggest at least 100,000 cattle were killed by floods, and hundreds of thousands more were threatened by starvation.

Images courtesy of NASA.

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