At least 3 people have died and 19 others are missing after heavy rains struck in central and northern Chile over the weekend. The heavy rains, unusual for this time of year in Chile, caused flooding and mudslides, blocking roads and leaving communities isolated.
The heavy rains also caused problems for the urban water systems in the Metropolitan region including the country’s capital, Santiago. Increased turbidity in the Maipo River prompted water company Aguas Andinas to cut water supply from early 26 February, affecting around 1,440,000 people in 33 communes of the Metropolitan region. Businesses and schools have been closed as a result of lack of water supply.
Authorities declared a Red Alert for the Province of Santiago and the communes of San Bernardo and Puente Alto for the interruption of supply of drinking water, effective from 26 February 2017. With the Red Alert statement, all necessary and available resources will be mobilized to act and control the situation, given the extent and severity of the event.
Aguas Andinas and local authorities have established 237 potable water supply points across the affected areas.
Onemi, the country’s disaster agency, reports that several landslides have been registered along major roads in the province of Cordillera. As many as 1,200 people were left isolated in the San Gabriel sector. This figure has since fallen as roads have been unblocked.
As of 26 February, 7 people were missing in the sectors of Los Maitenes and San José de Maipo, where over 300 people are still isolated. Helicopters have delivered water, medical and food supplies. Police search teams are carrying our searches along the Maipo river. As of late 26 February they had located the body of one of the missing.
Elsewhere in the country, in O’Higgins Region, one person was killed dead and three injured by landslides caused by the heavy rain in the Commune of San Fernando.
In Antofagasta Region, around 120 people have been evacuated after flooding from the overflowing San Pedro River in the municipality of San Pedro de Atacama. Around 12 people have been left isolated in the town of Catarpe.
Carabineros de la Prefectura Aérea sobrevuelan Ruta G-25, sector San Gabriel, en labores de búsqueda, apoyo y cooperación a la comunidad. pic.twitter.com/UPz5A1C3f9
— Carabineros de Chile (@Carabdechile) February 26, 2017
El corte de emergencia se debe a los aluviones reiterados y sorpresivos durante la noche y al aumento de turbiedad extrema en el río Maipo. pic.twitter.com/IL6Jybjo2v
— Aguas Andinas (@aguas_andinas) February 26, 2017