The Heat Is Online

Argentine Floods Displace 100,000

Argentina floods kill 16; 100,000 evacuated, May 3, 2003

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) -- The worst flooding to hit Argentina's farming heartland in memory has killed 16 people and forced 100,000 from their homes -- with some evacuees taking shelter in cemetery crypts -- officials said on Friday.

Vast tracts of land are submerged under several feet (metres) of water in the central farming province of Santa Fe after a major river broke its banks. Locals are forced to navigate the streets in boats, while others are sitting out the floods on the rooftops of their sodden homes amid fears of opportunistic looting.

"There are now 16 confirmed dead," said provincial police chief Miguel Belletti, adding that 50,000 people had been evacuated from the provincial capital and a similar number from flooded towns across the province.

The Salado River burst its banks following 55 inches (140 cm) of rain in two days earlier this week, flooding towns throughout the No.2 soy producing province. The average rainfall for the area is 32 inches (80 cm) of rain per year.

Floodwaters covered much of the area around the provincial capital, Santa Fe, which lies 300 miles (480 km) from Buenos Aires. Water began to recede on Friday but many residents remained without drinking water and electricity, the government said.

Caretaker President Eduardo Duhalde has declared Santa Fe a "disaster zone" and the World Bank plans to loan $123 million to help the province.

"The only thing I have is the clothes on my back; everything else is under water," a flood victim told reporters.

Thousands of Buenos Aires residents have pooled tons of food and clothing which are being trucked to the province. They are being stored in soccer stadiums.

But in a land still struggling to emerge from its worst ever economic crisis, local media said robbers had hijacked a handful of trucks and stolen the donations they were carrying.

Some 7.5 million acres (3 million hectares) of farmland are under water, according to the government. Most farm land lies north of the flood and 70 percent of the soy harvest already is collected. Some highways remain closed and railroads are blocked.


Argentina floods displace 100,000

Seven dead, three missing after days of rain, May 1, 2003

SANTA FE, Argentina (CNN) -- Emergency workers were working Thursday to bring in supplies to thousands forced from their homes after several days of heavy rains and flooding that left seven dead and three missing in this northern Argentinian province.

Authorities said that at least 29,000 people were in 115 official shelters, but they estimated another 90,000 residents had been displaced and were staying with relatives.

The Argentinian government is coordinating with local authorities to bring loads of food, medicine, and mattresses to the area.

Flood waters from the Rio Salado were beginning to recede Thursday under sunny skies.

The Santa Fe Province is an important agricultural region and authorities estimate the flooding will cost farmers at least $200 million.

The town of Santa Fe is about 500 kilometers from the capital city, Buenos Aires.

CNN's Buenos Aires Bureau Chief Carlina Cayazzo contributed to this report.