South America

Ecuador virus deaths double

QUITO, Ecuador (AFP) — Ecuador marked its highest daily increase in deaths and new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, with the total reaching 14 dead and 789 infected, authorities said. The number of fatalities rose from seven late Saturday to 14 on Sunday morning, while infections surged from 532 to 789, according to the country’s National Risk and Emergency Management Service. Ecuador had 166 people infected with the COVID-19 illness on Friday. It is the […]

Venezuela asks IMF for $5 billion aid over coronavirus

CARACAS, Venezuela (AFP) — President Nicolas Maduro asked the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday for a $5 billion loan to help crisis-worn Venezuela cope with the onslaught of the coronavirus. In a letter to IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva, Maduro said a $5 billion loan from the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument “will contribute significantly to strengthening our detection and response systems.” The RFI is a mechanism by which all member countries can get financial assistance without […]

Bolsonaro slams virus ‘hysteria’ as Brazil confirms first death

by Louis GENOT RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) — President Jair Bolsonaro condemned what he called “hysteria” over the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday, as Brazil confirmed its first death and Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro declared a state of emergency. Flying in the face of mounting global alarm over the pandemic, the far-right president lashed out at containment measures he said would hurt the economy. “People are acting like it’s the end of the world,” […]

Venezuela puts seven states, including Caracas, in virus quarantine

CARACAS, Venezuela (AFP) — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered on Sunday a “collective quarantine” in seven states, including the capital Caracas, from Monday to stem the spread of the new coronavirus pandemic. All activities in the seven states are to be suspended from 5:00 am on Monday, except food distribution, health services, transport and security, Maduro said in a television address to his crisis-devastated nation where the economy had already collapsed long before the pandemic […]

Former UN chief Javier Perez de Cuellar dead at 100

LIMA, Peru (AFP) — Former UN chief Javier Perez de Cuellar, who was known for his peace-making efforts including brokering a ceasefire in the Iran-Iraq war, died Wednesday in his native Peru, aged 100, his son said Perez de Cuellar served as UN secretary-general from 1981 to 1991, when he was often described as a “pacifist by vocation and nature.” Lauded by his countrymen as one of the most illustrious Peruvians of his era, Perez […]

21 dead as torrential rain hits Brazil

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AFP) — At least 21 people have been killed in torrential rain that hit the Brazilian states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, triggering flash floods and destroying homes, authorities said Tuesday. Another 32 people are missing in Sao Paulo, raising fears the toll could rise further. Violent storms in recent days have dumped a month’s worth of rain on some areas in a matter of hours, devastating the southern coast […]

18 killed as boat sinks in Brazilian Amazon

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AFP) — At least 18 people were killed when a riverboat sank in the Amazon rainforest region, Brazilian authorities said Monday, as survivors described fleeing the foundering boat in terror. The ferry was taking passengers up the Jari River, a tributary of the Amazon, when it suddenly began to tip over on Saturday at around dawn. Authorities said late Monday that beyond the 18 fatalities, they had rescued 46 survivors and 30 […]

Brazil confirms Latin America’s first coronavirus case

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AFP) — Brazil’s health ministry said on Wednesday a Sao Paulo resident has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, the first case recorded in Latin America. The 61-year-old patient had returned on February 21 from the Lombardy region of Italy, the epicenter of an outbreak in the European country, Brazil’s Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said. Mandetta said authorities were trying to identify people that had been in contact with the patient […]

Death toll in Peru tanker explosion rises to 30

LIMA, Peru (AFP) — The death toll from the explosion of a gas tanker in Lima last month has risen to 30, Peru’s ministry of health said Thursday. Two women and a man were the most recent to succumb to burns from a fireball that occurred when the tanker truck carrying 10,000 liters (2,642 gallons) of liquefied gas exploded on January 23. Initially, only two people were killed and 50 injured, but the death toll […]

Hitman for drug lord Pablo Escobar dies in Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia (AFP) — Pablo Escobar’s most notorious hitman, known by the nickname Popeye, died on Thursday at age 57 after a life of crime he celebrated on YouTube, Colombia’s prison authorities said. Jhon Jairo Velasquez had boasted of killing hundreds of people for his “boss” Escobar, the infamous drug lord killed by Colombian police in 1993 while on the run to avoid extradition to the United States. Velasquez spent 23 years in prison after […]

More torrential rain in Brazil raises death toll to 54

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AFP) — Another torrential downpour left the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte paralyzed Wednesday, with ruined cars abandoned on streets cake with mud, as the death toll from days of violent weather reached 54. Another 47,000 people across Minas Gerais, the southeastern state where the city is located, have been forced from their homes since the rains began on Friday, civil defense officials said. Tuesday evening’s downpour was nothing short of spectacular: […]

Brazil region swept by floods and record rains faces muddy desolation

SABARÁ, Brazil (AFP) – Valeria PACHECO Elaine Almeida looked at her aunt’s ruined house in Sabará, a town in a southeastern region of Brazil where at least 45 people have died in floods that followed record rainfall. “The water rose more than two meters, she lost everything,” Almeida said. She and her aunt tried pushing the door of the house open, but the mud inside was so deep they had to give up. In Sabará, a […]