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Death toll in Chile floods rises to 24, 69 missing

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The death toll from floods devastating northern Chile has risen by one to at least 24, officials said Wednesday, as President Michelle Bachelet cancelled a trip to a regional summit to cope with the crisis.

Another 69 people, up by 12 from the last tally, remain missing, the National Emergency Office said.

The flash floods broke out last week in the normally arid north, home to the world’s driest desert.

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Entire towns have been submerged by water and thousands of people have been left homeless.

The number of dead found in thick mud left behind by the floodwaters has risen steadily as the clean-up continues.

“I’m convinced that more bodies will appear,” the mayor of the town of Chanaral, Yerko Guerra, told local media earlier Wednesday.

Adding to those fears, the air force said a civilian helicopter had gone missing during emergency relief work in Atacama region. Media reports said it was carrying four passengers.

The floodwaters swept away entire towns and left tens of thousands of people without water or electricity.

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With the region struggling to cope with the devastation, Bachelet announced she would stay home to oversee the disaster response rather than attend the Summit of the Americas in Panama on April 10 and 11.

Thirty-five leaders are invited to the summit, where US President Barack Obama and Cuba’s Raul Castro will meet for the first time since announcing a historic rapprochement between their countries in December.

“Today marks one week since we were hit by the painful tragedy that lashed northern Chile,” Bachelet said. “We still have a lot to do.”

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Some 7,000 soldiers and police have been deployed to help with the clean-up, clear roads and search for the missing.

On Thursday, 1,200 emergency housing units are due to arrive in the region.

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Health officials have warned there is a high risk of outbreaks of gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases because of the mud and lack of drinking water.

The government has declared a health emergency for the zone and sent thousands of units of flu, tetanus and hepatitis A vaccines.

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Contracts show how Giuliani-backed lawyers planned to help fired Ukraine prosecutor get revenge on Biden

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Newly revealed contracts obtained by the Daily Beast show that two lawyers backed by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani explicitly promised to help fired Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin regain his reputation by digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.

A contract written up by attorney Victoria Toensing this past April stated that Shokin would agree to pay Toensing and her husband, fellow attorney Joseph diGenova, $125,000 "for the purpose of collecting evidence regarding [Shokin’s] March 2016 firing as Prosecutor General of Ukraine and the role of then-Vice President Joe Biden in such firing, and presenting such evidence to U.S. and foreign authorities."

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Bill Lee is fond of rolling up his sleeves but in a unique move the Tennessee Republican governor has just made his job much easier. Gov. Lee says it’s up to citizens to end school shootings and the opioid epidemic, and to improve results in the state’s schools, by praying.

“If thousands of people offer similar prayers, he believes God will impart his favor on Tennessee,” the AP reports. “The governor’s remarks came during a luncheon at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Nashville headquarters.”

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‘Not sure how they sleep at night’: Outrage erupts as GOP senator blocks Armenian Genocide bill at Trump’s behest

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According to a report from Axios this Thursday, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) was directed by the White House to block a resolution formally recognizing Turkey's genocide of the Armenian people. Cramer's move marks the third time the Trump administration has directed a GOP senator to block the resolution.

The move was met with widespread condemnation, some of which came from former GOP state Rep. Cole Wist (CO), who accused the White House of attempting to "whitewash history."

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