100,000 flee Asuncion as water levels rise

A house nearly submerged in floodwaters in Paraguay's capital, Asuncion, on Wednesday.
A house nearly submerged in floodwaters in Paraguay's capital, Asuncion, on Wednesday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Large parts of the United States, Britain and South America are underwater ahead of the New Year, still inundated by floodwaters which many experts have blamed on the El Nino weather phenomenon triggered by a shift in trade winds across the Pacific around the Equator. Here's an update on the situation in the three regions.

MEXICO CITY • Paraguay has been the worst-hit of four Latin American countries grappling with severe floods unleashed by the current El Nino weather phenomenon.

The director of Paraguay's weather service, Mr Julian Baez, told reporters the level of the Paraguay River has risen to nearly 8m. If rains continue as forecasters expect, the flood levels could tie or pass their record of 9m in 1983, when the capital's busy port area was under water, Mr Baez warned.

"It is a situation of nature that we have to live with," said Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes, while visiting the flood-hit area of Alberdi on Monday.

"Paraguay is the country most affected, with some 100,000 people displaced from their homes in the capital Asuncion alone," the Daily Paraguay said on its website.

Elsewhere, driving rains in the Sao Paulo area in southern Brazil triggered a mudslide that killed four people, state officials said on Sunday.

In Uruguay, between Argentina and Brazil on the South Atlantic, more than 16,300 people have fled their homes because of the floods, the National Emergency System said on Monday.

In north-eastern Argentina, two people were killed and about 20,000 were evacuated from their homes because of flooding by the Uruguay River. "The situation has stabilised (but) there are still 20,000 people evacuated," Argentine Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio told a news conference. Most of those were in the eastern city of Concordia.

"If it starts raining again like it did last week, we are going to have difficulties," said Mr Gustavo Bordet, governor of the surrounding province of Entre Rios.

International environmental group Greenpeace said in a statement that the flooding devastation was due to a combination of the El Nino weather phenomenon and increased rain and deforestation, which destroys woodland that otherwise absorbs rainwater.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2016, with the headline '100,000 flee Asuncion as water levels rise'. Print Edition | Subscribe