20,000 remain stranded in Mexico flood




VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico &

Hungry and dehydrated victims of one of the worst floods in Mexico's history scrambled for government packages of food and medicine, while at least 20,000 people remained trapped Monday on the rooftops of homes swallowed by water.




Residents were running dangerously short of food and water after nearly a week of floods left 80 percent of the Gulf Coast state of Tabasco under water and destroyed or damaged the homes of about half a million people. Gov. Andres Granier ordered central streets in the state capital of Villahermosa closed to all but rescue workers to prevent looting.




Authorities said two more bodies were found Sunday in the brackish waters covering much of the region. If the deaths are confirmed to have been caused by the flooding, the disaster's death toll would stand at 10.




Government officials worked furiously to distribute aid, and authorities continued trolling the water-filled streets looking for stranded residents.




Villahermosa, the state capital, was still completely under water, though river levels had begun to drop after rising to historic levels. The National Water Commission said it had begun efforts to start pumping the streets.




Oprah to clean up South African school




JOHANNESBURG, South Africa &

Oprah Winfrey said Monday she wept for half an hour when she heard a dorm matron was accused of abusing students at her school for disadvantaged South African girls. She promised to "clean house" starting with the headmistress.




Winfrey said officials at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls hid facts and told students to "put on happy faces" and not complain to her. Though she said she was not responsible for hiring at the school, she said the screening process was inadequate and "the buck always stops with me."




She spoke to reporters in South Africa by satellite from the United States hours after the accused dormitory matron appeared in court near Johannesburg.




Tiny Virginia Makopo, 27, was not asked to submit a formal plea. But she said she was "not guilty" of the 13 charges of indecent assault, assault and criminal injury against six students ages 13 to 15 and a 23-year-old fellow dormitory matron.




Makopo, who was arrested Thursday, was freed on $450 bail and ordered to return to court on Dec. 13.




"" The Associated Press