Authorities have started clearing a huge homeless encampment known as The Jungle, in the heart of California's affluent Silicon Valley.

Former residents of the camp dragged their meagre belongings out of a dense wooded area next to Coyote Creek, as bulldozers flattened their flimsy tents and plywood shelters.

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Valentin Cortez,a resident of The Jungle, holds a tiny puppy dog as the Silicon Valley homeless encampment in San Jose, California, is bulldozedJosh Edelson/AFP
Jungle homeless San Jose
A worker uses a bulldozer to clear debris at the Silicon Valley homeless encampmentJosh Edelson/AFP
Jungle homeless San Jose
A man sleeps as dwellings around him are dismantledJosh Edelson/AFP
Jungle homeless San Jose
Yolanda Gutierrez, who lived at The Jungle for two years, gathers her possessionsJosh Edelson/AFP
Jungle homeless San Jose
Authorities break down a homeless encampment known as The JungleBeck Diefenbach/Reuters
Jungle homeless San Jose
Former residents of The Jungle stand with their belongings as authorities begin dismantling the campJosh Edelson/AFP

The camp had persisted at the southern edge of San Jose – just a short drive from tech giants Google, Apple, Yahoo and eBay – for more than a decade, at one point claiming some 200 inhabitants.

The encampment stands in stark contrast to the surrounding valley, a region that leads the country in job growth, income and venture capital.

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A house covered in wrapping paper with a cardboard chimneyJosh Edelson/AFP
Jungle homeless San Jose
A tree house called Troy ResortJosh Edelson/AFP
Jungle homeless San Jose
A former underground dwellingJosh Edelson/AFP
Jungle homeless San Jose
A pair of jeans used as a door mat at the entrance to a dwellingJosh Edelson/AFP
Jungle homeless San Jose
Authorities clear the homeless camp in the heart of California's affluent Silicon ValleyJosh Edelson/AFP
Jungle homeless San Jose
Mercy Wong protests as The Jungle is demolishedJosh Edelson/AFP

San Jose has spent more than $4m over the last year and a half to solve problems at the encampment and has housed some 135 people from the site.

City officials estimated about 60 people remained at the site when the clear-out day operation started.