South America

Severe flooding hits 4 countries

A resident of Asuncion recovering his belongings. About 90,000 people in the area near the Paraguayan capital have been evacuated.
A resident of Asuncion recovering his belongings. About 90,000 people in the area near the Paraguayan capital have been evacuated.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ASUNCION/BUENOS AIRES • More than 100,000 people have had to evacuate from their homes in the bordering areas of Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina due to severe flooding in the wake of heavy rains brought on by El Nino, the authorities said.

In the worst-affected country, Paraguay, around 90,000 people in the area around the capital Asuncion have been evacuated, the municipal Emergencies Office said on Saturday. Many are poor families living in precarious housing along the banks of the River Paraguay.

The Paraguayan government has declared a state of emergency in Asuncion and seven regions of the country to free up funds to help those affected. Several people have been killed by trees falling in the storms that caused the flooding, local media reported.


This year's El Nino, which sparks global climate extremes, is the worst in more than 15 years, the United Nations weather agency, the World Meteorological Organisation, said last month. "Severe droughts and devastating flooding being experienced throughout the tropics and sub-tropical zones bear the hallmarks of this El Nino, which is the strongest in more than 15 years," it said in a statement.

In northern Argentina, around 20,000 people have had to abandon their homes, the government said on Saturday.

"We are going to have a few complicated months; the consequences will be serious," said Mr Ricardo Colombi, governor of the Corrientes region, after flying over the worst-affected areas.

In Uruguay, more than 9,000 people have had to flee their homes, according to the national Emergencies Office, which added that it expected the floodwater to remain at its current level for several days before subsiding.

At least four people have died in Argentina and Uruguay due to the storms and floods, according to local media reports. One person drowned while another was electrocuted by a fallen power cable.

In Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul state Civil Defence said 1,795 people were left homeless there after 38 towns were affected by heavy rains.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2015, with the headline 'Severe flooding hits 4 countries'. Print Edition | Subscribe