Chile – Over 30,000 Evacuate Floods in 6 Regions

Disaster authorities in Chile report that over 30,000 people have evacuated their homes after heavy rainfall brought by a frontal system caused floods and mudslides. President Gabriel Boric declared a State of Catastrophe for the hardest hit areas in Biobío and O’Higgins Regions. This is Chile’s second major flood event in 8 weeks.

Floods in Maule Region, Chile, August 2023. Photo: Carabineros Maule

Meteo Chile said a frontal system accompanied by an atmospheric river brought heavy rain to parts of central-southern Chile from 17 August 2023. Areas of Santiago Metropolitan, O’Higgins, Maule, Ñuble, Valparaíso and Biobío regions have all seen significant rainfall totals. In the Maule Region, Retiro Copihue recorded 137 mm and Panguilemo 122.4 mm in a period from 19 to 21 August. In Ñuble Region, Termas de Chillán saw 371.9 mm and Chillán Mayulermo 208.8 mm during the same period. Concepción in Biobío recorded 67.2 mm and El Paico in Santiago Metropolitan Region saw 79.2 mm.

The heavy rain has triggered multiple mudslides and landslides and caused several rivers to break their banks including:

  • Achibueno River in the communes of Longaví and Linares, Maule Region
  • Loncomilla river in San Javier commune, Maule Region
  • Maule River in Constitución and Maule communes, Maule Region
  • Mataquito River in Sagrada Familia and Hualañé communes, Maule Region
  • Itata River in Ránquil commune, Ñuble Region
  • Chillán River in Chillán commune, Ñuble Region
  • Biobío River in Commune of Negrete, Biobío Region
  • Laja River in San Rosendo and Cabrero Communes, Biobío Region
  • Biobío River in Los Ángeles Commune, Biobío Region
  • Andalien River in Commune of Concepción, Biobío Region
  • Rapel River in Santo Domingo Commune, Valparaíso Region

Damage to roads and bridges has left thousand of people isolated. According to Chile’s disaster management agency SENAPRED (Servicio Nacional de Prevención y Respuesta ante Desastres), as of 21 August there were 31,002 people isolated in Maule Region and 1,523 in Biobío Region. Hundreds of people were also isolated in areas of O’Higgins and Nuble regions.

Rising rivers have prompted evacuations across the affected areas. In total 32,728 people were displaced across the country as of 21 August, including 24,792 in Maule Region and 7,163 in O’Higgins.

Almost 40 people were rescued by helicopter in Maule Region and 58 in Ñuble.

In total 1,042 houses have been damaged, mostly in O’Higgins Region. Two houses were completely destroyed in Ñuble region.

At least 3 people have lost their lives as a result of the severe weather in the last few days. A firefighter died while carrying out rescue operations in Cañete in Biobío Region on 19 August. Another fatality was reported after a tree fell onto a vehicle in Biobío Region. One weather-related fatality was also reported in Ñuble Region but no further details were available.

On 21 August, President Gabriel Boric declared a State of Catastrophe for affected areas of Biobío and O’Higgins Regions.

This is the second major flood event to strike the country in the last 8 weeks. In late June similar weather conditions resulted in widespread flooding in which at least 2 people lost their lives.

Flood rescue in Concepcion, Biobio, Chile on 21 August 2023. Photo: Carabineros Región del Bío Bío

Social Media