Chile – Deaths and Evacuations After Floods in Atacama and Coquimbo

Disaster management authorities in Chile say that flooding in the regions of Atacama, and Coquimbo since Friday 12 May has left 2 people dead and forced almost 3,000 to evacuate their homes. Some heavy rain has also been reported in Antofagasta and O’Higgins regions.

Coquimbo Region

National Emergency Office of the Ministry of Interior And Public Security (ONEMI) said that 2 people died in an area near Monte Patria, Limarí Province, after being dragged in their vehicle by flood water.

Over 1,500 people evacuated their homes near Ovalle. ONEMI said people had to move to higher ground as levels of the Limarí River increased dramatically. A nearby reservoir also threatened to overflow.

ONEMI added that 20 homes have been severely damaged and 1 completely destroyed. Over 50,000 people were left without drinking water as of 13 May.

Flooding has damaged or blocked roads in areas around Andacollo, to the north of Ovalle, leaving over 11,000 people isolated.

Atacama Region

In Atacama evacuations have been carried out in Chañaral, Diego de Almagro and Freirina.

The Minister of the Interior, Mahmud Aleuy, said the Government has declared Chañaral Province a catastrophe zone to help aid recovery.

As of 13 May, over 1,300 people in affected areas of the region had left their homes to stay in temporary accommodation. Around 3,000 homes have been damaged. Thousands of homes have been left without power.

Flooding has left some communities cut off and ONEMI says around 1,248 people are isolated.

Previous Floods

Parts of northern Chile suffered devastating flooding in April 2015. Twenty-six people died, 2,000 homes were destroyed and a further 6,000 damaged during that time.

Deadly floods struck parts of northern and central Chile in February this year. At least 3 people died and thousands were left without drinking water in Metropolitan region including the country’s capital, Santiago.

Rainfall

The Meteorological Direction of Chile said that the heavy rain has been the result of an area of low pressure, which is thought to have since moved away from the country and into Argentina.

Minister of the Interior said that La Serena, capital of the Coquimbo region and situated on the coast, recorded more than 100 mm of rainfall in under 8 hours. The city would normally see 2.8 mm for the whole of May.

Agencia Informaciones de Chile said via Social Media that over 20 locations recorded more than 100 mm of rain during the period of severe weather, and 2 locations saw more than 200 mm.

Rainfall figures for parts of northern Chile from 12 May 2017. Image: Agencia Informaciones de Chile

Social Media

https://twitter.com/InformacionesCL/status/863334376960126977

https://twitter.com/InfoCL_Atacama/status/863257141817352192

https://twitter.com/InfoCL_Atacama/status/863256085230215168

Featured photo: Limari river, Chile, May 2017. Credit: Police Coquimbo

Flood summary

Last updated: May 15, 2017
Event
Northern Chile, May 2017
Date
May 12, 2017
Type
Flash flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall

Locations

A - Monte Patria
B - Ovalle
C - Andacollo
D - Chañaral
E - Diego de Almagro
F - Freirina

Magnitude

Rainfall level
42.2 mm in 24 hours
La Serena - May 13 to May 13, 2017
According to Ogimet figures

Damages

Fatalities
2 people
May 12 to May 15, 2017
Evacuated
1500 people
Ovalle - May 12 to May 15, 2017
Evacuated
1300 people
Chañaral Province - May 12 to May 15, 2017

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