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Firefighters evacuate residents of a shantytown located on the banks of the Mapocho River, as the river would overflow due to heavy rains in the commune of Talagante, Santiago. Photo: AFP

State of ‘catastrophe’ as downpours hit Chile

CHILE, June 14: Heavy rains battered south and central Chile on Thursday, killing one person and causing damage to hundreds of homes as authorities declared a state of catastrophe in five regions of the South American country.

A person died in the southern city of Linares when a street lamp post fell after hours-long downpours and strong winds, the Senapred disaster response service said.

Earlier in the day, Chile’s weather service issued the highest level of alarm, covering around 14 million of the 20 million people living in six of the country’s 16 regions, but this was later lifted as authorities said 80 percent of the storm had passed, and was headed for neighboring Argentina.

“The worst of this frontal system is behind us, but we cannot let our guard down,” Interior Minister Carolina Toha said in the latest official report.

Prior to the arrival of the flood waters, Chile’s central region had battled severe drought for 15 years.

“We need boats to get people out,” a resident in one of the affected towns, Curanilahue, told national television.

Curanilahue, about 600 kilometers south of the capital Santiago, has been hard hit as the Curanilahue and Las Ranas rivers overflowed after the area received 350 millimeters of rain in just hours, more than in 2023 as a whole.

Around 2,000 houses in the area were damaged. – TVS

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