| Las Minas River burst its banks in Punta Arenas, Chile, causing devastating flooding in the city [AFP]
Chile has now joined the long list of countries to suffer flooding in recent weeks across South America. Torrential rain has caused rivers to burst their banks in both ends of the country, some 5000 km apart.
The latest place to be hit is Punta Arenas in the south of the country, some 3000 km to the south of Santiago. Here floodwaters from the Las Minas River have spilled out into the streets and vehicles have been dragged into the downtown area.
Initial estimates suggest that around 800 people have been affected. The city’s mayor, Vladimir Mimica, has described the shopping centre here as “very damaged”. Many vehicles are also under water.
Around 115mm of rain was recorded in the city over the weekend. This amounts to a quarter of the average annual rainfall in just two days.
At the other end of the country, around 300 people in Arica, which is located 2000 km to the north of the capital, have had their homes flooded. Farms in the nearby Azapa Valley have also been damaged.
Here the San Jose River is now overflowing, some bridges have been damaged and even the railway line into neighbouring Tacna in Peru has been blocked. Around 300 people had to be rescued after a passenger train was left stranded by mud and debris.
The Chilean army has also expressed fears that the floodwaters may have displaced land mines on the border. This was also the case just last month, and the border was forced to close. The mines date back to the 1970s when tensions were high between the Chile and Peru.
Source: Al Jazeera