70,000 families displaced in Paraguay floods

Some residents have opted to remain in their flooded homes in Puerto Falcon, near the capital Asuncion, despite water levels on the Paraguay River rising.
Some residents have opted to remain in their flooded homes in Puerto Falcon, near the capital Asuncion, despite water levels on the Paraguay River rising.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ASUNCION (Paraguay) • Heavy flooding in Paraguay has displaced 70,000 families and is threatening to further inundate the capital Asuncion in the coming weeks, the country's weather bureau said.

Water levels on the Paraguay River are rising at a rate of 4cm to 5cm every day and only 46cm below a "disaster" level, according to official data from the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH) on Sunday.

Crossing that threshold would "have a very strong impact" because of the number of Asuncion residents who have moved into the city's floodplain, said DMH deputy director Nelson Perez.

The city's water service infrastructure is clogged with garbage, a condition which is exacerbating the floods, Mr Perez added.

Unusually heavy downpours this month, including two days which together exceeded Asuncion's average monthly rainfall, have exacerbated the flooding, said DMH meteorologist Eduardo Mingo.

Some 40,000 people in Asuncion have already been affected by the floods, official data shows. A further 10,000 people have been displaced in the southern town of Pilar on the Argentinian border.

The government has mobilised the armed forces to help displaced residents relocate to shelters, but hundreds of families have opted to stay behind in their inundated homes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2019, with the headline '70,000 families displaced in Paraguay floods'. Print Edition | Subscribe