South American floods kill 12, force mass evacuations

BUENOS Aires, Argentina (AFP) — Severe storms and flooding across South America’s “southern cone” have killed at least 12 people and forced thousands to evacuate, with more bad weather on the way.

Argentina, Chile and Uruguay have all been hit by the deluge, which has inundated towns, taken out bridges, blocked roads and cut off water supplies in recent days.

In Uruguay, the bad weather culminated Friday in a tornado that killed five people in the western town of Dolores.

Four others were killed when they were swept away by floodwaters, officials said Wednesday, updating an earlier death toll after a man’s body was found on the banks of the San Jose river.

More than 10,000 people have been evacuated in Uruguay, which typically has a mild climate.

In Chile, three people were killed and nine are missing after heavy rains swept the country at the weekend.

The storms poured nearly five times more precipitation on the central Andes mountains than they typically get in the entire month of April.

Flooding interrupted the supply of potable water to nearly 4.5 million people in Santiago.

Chilean officials said water supplies had been restored as life slowly returned to normal in the capital.

Flooding also forced the closure of the world’s largest underground copper mine, El Teniente, until Thursday.

In Argentina, 12,000 people were forced to evacuate, mainly in Entre Rios province, which sits between the swollen Parana and Uruguay rivers.

More rain was forecast for later in the week.