More than 160,000 people have been displaced over the past several days by the heaviest floods to hit South America in 50 years. At least 144,000 were evacuated from flooded areas near the Paraguay River in Paraguay, the hardest-hit country. About 20,000 were displaced in Argentina and several thousand in Uruguay and Brazil. Bolivia has also been battered by severe floods.
The floods, caused by overflowing rivers and torrential rains blamed on the El Nino phenomenon, have been responsible for at least eight deaths: six in Paraguay and two in Uruguay. The causes of the deaths have ranged from falling trees to electrocution.
Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo, reporting from the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires after visiting the city of Concordia – one of the cities particularly badly hit by the disaster – said that thousands of residents were forced to take refuge in shelters.
“We visited shelters in Concordia that were packed with mostly poor people who had lost everything they owned,” she said. “The government is struggling to provide people with food and other basic needs … It has set up a commission to deal with the crisis that will last for at least a couple of months.”