Deadly floods hit Atacama and Coquimbo, Chile

Deadly floods hit Atacama and Coquimbo, Chile

Heavy rains affecting Atacama and Coquimbo regions of Chile since May 12, 2017, have caused widespread floods, left at least 2 people dead and forced 3 000 people to evacuate. Both Coquimbo and Atacama are on Red Alert.

La Serena, the capital of Coquimbo region recorded more than 100 mm (3.9 inches) of rain within just 8 hours, Chile's Minister of Interior said. The city normally receives 2.8 mm (0.1 inches) during the entire month of May. While more than 20 locations recorded 100 mm (3.9 inches) of rain during the period of severe weather, 2 locations saw more than 200 mm (7.9 inches), according to FloodList.

According to the National Emergency Office of the Ministry of Interior And Public Security (ONEMI), 2 people died in an area near Monte Patria, Limarí Province of Coquimbo, after being dragged in their vehicle by flood water. Evacuated localities include Huamalata, Algarrobo, Villaseca, San Felix and Samo Bajo.

Over 1 500 people evacuated their homes near Ovalle. ONEMI said people had to move to higher ground as levels of the Limarí River increased dramatically, adding that 20 homes have been severely damaged and 1 completely destroyed.

More than 11 000 people were isolated in areas around Andacollo, north of Ovalle, after floods damaged or blocked roads. Over 50 000 people were left without drinking water as of May 13.

In Atacama's municipality of Diego de Almagro, the Salado River overflowed towards the city of Chañaral, ONEMI said March 13, adding that an undetermined number of people have evacuated at the request of the emergency teams.

The overflow of the Copiapó River was reported in various sectors of the city of Copiapó. Floods also hit Tierra Amarilla, Freirina, Alto del Carmen and Vallenar.

The Government has declared Chañaral a catastrophe zone to help aid recovery. As of May 13, over 1 300 people in affected areas of the region had left their homes to stay in temporary accommodation. Around 3 000 homes have been damaged and thousands left without power.

More than 21 120 customers in Atacama are without potable water service, concentrated in Alto Del Carmen and Copiapó. The port of Huasco is closed for smaller ships, while that of Chañaral is closed in its entirety.

Between the regions of Atacama (north) and O'Higgins (south), there are so far 2 people dead, 7 263 customers without electricity and 100 490 without drinking water, ONEMI said May 14

Featured image credit: InfoLC Red Atacama

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