Worst chain of bad weather in 40 years displaces 12,000 in Chile

Other News Materials 3 September 2008 01:22 (UTC +04:00)

Over 12,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in southern Chile due to a chain of storms and heavy rain that is thought to be the worst in 40 years in the area.

A further 10,000 people were left isolated in the Araucania Region alone. Of these, some 6,000 were in the area of Curarrehue, which remained out of bounds for police helicopters Tuesday due to difficult weather conditions, the dpa reported.

"We cannot manage to assist everyone," said Mauricio Salas, mayor of the affected town of Nueva Imperial.

About 2,000 homes suffered considerable damage in the regions of Maule and Araucania, respectively 400 and 900 kilometres south of Santiago.

"The level of precipitation has been such that within four or five hours there were 60 to 70 millimetres of rain," said National Emergency Office head Carmen Fernandez.

The official added that all rivers in the area experienced "some kind of overflow."

So far, however, no one was reported dead and there were no major emergencies, while the Chilean Armed Forces prioritized rescue efforts in rural areas.

The rain was closing in on the Chilean capital, Santiago, home to some 6 million people.