( AP ) - A week of heavy rains unleashed massive flooding Wednesday in southeastern Mexico, where tens of thousands fled the rising waters for shelters in Tabasco and Chiapas states.
At least 20,000 people had sought shelter in Tabasco's oil-rich capital of Villahermosa, where floodwaters reached the rooftoops of homes, and Gov. Andres Granier was urging residents to evacuate.
"If they do not leave, I'm going to order them out by force," Granier told reporters in an interview broadcast on the Televisa television network.
The flooding, which is not related to Tropical Storm Noel, also apparently caused the soil supporting a 10-inch natural gas pipeline to give way and spring a leak, officials from the state-owned company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said. Tabasco state officials said the pipeline had exploded, but that there were no deaths or injuries.
Water also crept up around the huge stone heads of an Olmec Indian archaeological site in Tabasco.
President Felipe Calderon flew to the area Wednesday and offered "all help humanly possible" to the more than 300,000 people of the state whose homes were flooded, damaged or cut off.
In the southern state of Chiapas, 7,000 people were evacuated due to floods, the daily newspaper El Universal reported.
In Villahermosa, rooftops barely jutted above the surface of brackish waters flooding the city's streets after at least one major river overflowed its banks.
" Tabasco (normally) has water on 34 percent of its territory, but I can tell you that now, it's more than 70 percent water," Granier said Tuesday, according to a transcript of his comments posted on the state government's Web site. "In 48 hours, our state has been devastated, totally devastated."
The site did not indicate how many people had been evacuated. Telephones at Tabasco state offices rang busy all day Wednesday.
Heavy rains started swelling rivers on Sunday.