Blizzard strands 200, prompts evacuations in Argentina Andes

A fierce snowstorm in the Andes mountains near the Argentina-Chile border sent temperatures plunging well below freezing. PHOTO: REUTERS

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) - Some 200 people, mostly tourists and truckers, were stranded on Sunday (July 10) by a fierce snowstorm in the Andes mountains near the Argentina-Chile border, with temperatures plunging well below freezing, local officials said.

Another 120 people were rescued early in the day by police and military personnel in and around the towns of Las Cuevas and Los Penitentes at an altitude of more than 3,000 metres.

"There are temperatures of minus 10 degrees Celsius, with more than one metre of snow accumulated on the roads," Mr Hector Tello, an official from the village of Las Heras, told channel C5N.

The powerful winter storm hit on Saturday, hammering the mountain road connecting the two countries and stranding more than 300 vehicles along the route.

The Los Libertadores border crossing was shut down by authorities.

The region some 1,200 kilometres west of Buenos Aires has been hit by a polar cold snap.

Evacuees were moved to shelters in nearby towns, and Mr Tello said officials were aiming to complete the remaining rescues by Monday.

Weather conditions, however, "continue to be bad", he added.

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