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Mexico Opens Canal Blocked by Landslide

Image: Residents steer their boat close to the clogged Grijalva river in San Juan de Grijalva, Mexico, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2007. In order to reopen the river's way safely, authorities asked nearby residents to evacuate their houses as a preventive measure in case of a new flooding. The river was blocked by a mudslide last Nov. 4, 2007. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

SAN JUAN DEL GRIJALVA, Mexico (AP) — Mexican authorities on Tuesday cautiously opened a canal through an enormous landslide that blocked a major river in southern Mexico in November and swept away and entire community.

The Grijalva River, the second-largest by volume in Mexico, flowed without incident through an 875-yard-long canal, dug through the middle of an enormous mountain of earth that collapsed Nov. 4 during heavy rains.

The landslide buried the town of San Juan de Grijalva, blocked a section of the river and kicked up a huge wave of water, killing 19 people.

Before unblocking the river, officials evacuated thousands of downstream residents near the waterway in the southern state of Chiapas and neighboring Tabasco state, as a precaution against flooding.

Chiapas Civil Protection Deputy Director Luis Manuel Garcia said the released water would take about a day to reach the border with Tabasco, a naturally swampy state that was almost entirely submerged during rain-driven floods in late October.

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