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Thousands of thirsty mudslide survivors in Venezuela got relief Thursday when the United States sent in a huge airplane with machines that can purify water from the ocean and contaminated rivers.

The C-5 Galaxy, the largest airplane made in the United States, arrived from Puerto Rico with two machines that can purify more than 3,100 gallons of water per hour, as well as sea water at a slower rate.

The world may never know the full magnitude of Venezuela's worst natural disaster this century. Eight days after tons of boulders and dirt came tumbling down Mount Avila, which separates the capital of Caracas from the Caribbean Sea, most victims remain buried under huge piles of mud, boulders and trees.

Official estimates range from 5,000 to 30,000 dead.

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