20,000 evacuated amid relentless rain in Dominican Republic

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) " Thousands of people along the Dominican Republic's north coast were evacuated on Tuesday amid heavy rains that have caused widespread flooding and destroyed dozens of homes.

More than 130 rural towns in that region were cut off by heavy rains that destroyed 50 homes and severely damaged 62 other ones, said emergency operations coordinator Jose Manuel Mendez.

"No one should cross rivers by car, on foot, and much less swim across them," he said.

Public transportation remained free for those taken from high-risk areas to the homes of relatives.

At least 20,000 people already have been evacuated amid rain that has relentlessly pelted the area for two weeks and caused numerous landslides. Among the evacuated were 700 inmates in Santiago, the country's second most prominent city.

President Danilo Medina declared a national emergency in eight provinces to speed up aid delivery.

The rain is expected to continue through Friday and has forced authorities to close schools in several regions. Meanwhile, government officials were tallying agricultural losses.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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