Chile flooding leaves 4 dead, 22 missing

Chile flooding leaves 4 dead, 22 missing
# 26 March 2015 18:24 (UTC +04:00)

Official reports on Thursday said two people died in the city of Antofagasta, one was killed by an electrical shock and the other died when a water tank collapsed. Two other people died when they were swept away by flood waters in the Atacama region.

Rain also flooded the main streets in the regional capital, Copiapo, and in several surrounding towns. It has also cut off hundreds of residents in remote areas.

Hundreds of residents have left their homes after they were destroyed by surging waters that also knocked out power supplies and damaged roads.

The massive torrential rains have prompted the government to declare a state of emergency in the region and put several municipalities on a health alert to handle the casualties.

The army has been also called in to help with rescue and relief operations as President Michelle Bachelet visits the region to coordinate the aid efforts.

Bachelet has expressed solidarity with the flood victims, giving assurance to the residents that all necessary resources would be deployed to the area.

The rain eased by Thursday morning, but weather forecasters expected more later in the day. It seems that the people of the region, suffering severe drought in past years, were not used to dealing with the heavy rain, and consequently, the flood.

Flights to regional airports in Calama and Antofagasta were postponed and the state-owned Codelco Company had to temporarily halt its work in some of the sites in the area. However, the world’s biggest copper producer said the working had resumed by late Wednesday.

The last major flood to hit northern Chile was in 1997.

Northern Chile’s floods come as southern Chile is in the midst of wildfires exacerbated by a severe drought.