Violent storms have caused widespread devastation across Uruguay with seven people killed and more than 2,000 left homeless. 

Around 500 houses were damaged in the severe weather, which also included at least one tornado. The twister was responsible for killing four people in the town of Delores, 250km northwest of Montevideo.

President Tabare Vasquez declared a state of emergency around Delores, but the torrential downpours were spread far and wide.

Durazno and Paso De Los Toros, both in central Uruguay, recorded 162mm and 131mm of rain respectively on Sunday. Further east, Treinta y Tres was inundated with 191mm of rainfall in 24 hours.

There have also been some heavy downpours on the other side of the Andes where central Chile was hit with torrential rain. Santiago suffered floods as the Mapocho River overflowed for the first time in 30 years.

Four million people in the Chilean capital were left without tap water as the heavy rain triggered landslides. This led to the fouling of the city's water supply and forced the closure of the massive El Teniente copper mine, the world's largest, for at least three days. 

A national emergency response has been declared in Santiago as its seven million residents await a return to clean water. Thousands of locals had to flock to the shops and supermarkets where the bottled water sold out within a matter of hours.

The Office of National Emergencies called on residents to ration water, and to collect and save it where possible. Further rain is likely to spread in from the south by the middle of the week so it may be some time before the flood waters finally recede.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies