ASUNCION (AFP) - The authorities in Paraguay's capital Asuncion on Wednesday (Jan 24) declared a state of emergency for a month after the Paraguay River burst its banks, leaving at least 20,000 people homeless.
The unseasonal high waters have washed over many poor neighbourhoods built along the banks.
About a half million people are in the capital, and 2.2 million in its metro area. The South American country has seven million people in total.
The capital city's council said it was moving to get food and water to the people hit by flooding.
Many of the displaced have been moved to higher areas of the low-lying capital, the national emergency office said.
Hundreds more of the displaced were setting up makeshift camps in plazas of the capital and on any small unoccupied spot they could find.
Forecasters said heavy rains in recent weeks were behind the river's rise.