Nine people missing after Argentina mudslide
Nine people were missing Tuesday after a mudslide in northern Argentina that prompted the evacuation of more than 700 people, officials said.
The disaster occurred Monday in the town of Tartagal, dpa reported.
Argentine Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo did not confirm reports that two people were killed in the mudslide, which occurred in the Argentine province of Salta.
According to Tartagal Mayor Sergio Leavy, "a 75-year-old woman and another woman who may be her daughter, aged 59, have been dragged off by the current" and may be presumed dead.
Randazzo noted that Tartagal - a town with some 60,000 that lies 1,700 kilometres northwest of Buenos Aires - is going through a "tragedy," with "a third of its population" affected by the mass of water, mud and uprooted trees that came down from the mountains into the Tartagal River.
The mudslide destroyed an old railway bridge, devastating homes on the river banks.
Environmental organizations have charged that the flooding is linked to indiscriminate deforestation in the area, although the minister said this would have to be proved.
The mudslide followed heavy rain in recent days in northern Argentina and in Bolivia. Meteorologists predicted that rain was to persist, which could worsen the situation.