Chile official warns of ‘worst front in a decade’ after floods, evacuations

Santiago, June 24 (BNA) Days of heavy rain swelled Chile’s rivers, causing floods that closed roads and prompted evacuations in the center of the country, amid what has been described as the worst weather front in a decade.

On Friday, residents of the capital, Santiago, were surprised by a large mass of brown water flowing downstream of the Mapocho River, the city’s main waterway, which has risen dramatically with heavy rains recently.

According to Reuters, flooding around the Mapocho River has cut off roads to the Pacific Ocean, affecting families living along its banks and leaving small towns isolated.

This led to the authorities declaring a “high alert” and ordering precautionary evacuations in various cities in the south of Santiago.

“This is the worst weather front we have seen in ten years,” said the governor of the Santiago metropolitan region, Claudio Orejo. A weather front, or the boundary between different types of air, refers to a change in weather that often brings rain, thunderstorms, and tornadoes.

Franco Rodriguez, a resident of the small town of Novisiado, said neighbors woke him up at night and ordered him and his family to leave their home.

“At about 3 or 3:30 in the morning the river burst and we had to run,” he said.

The flooding of the Mapocho River also affected parts of the busy road connecting Santiago to the main port of Valparaiso.

In the mountainous tourist areas around the Maipu River, authorities have been moving residents from their hometowns since Thursday due to the risk of landslides and more flooding.

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Maipu and Mapocho are the main rivers that bring water to the capital city. City authorities called on citizens to collect drinking water as supplies could be compromised by changes in the water as it mixes with mud and other pollutants.

The rain is expected to continue until at least Saturday morning.

Climate change is increasingly leading to extreme weather. The rains in Chile come a few months after the period of forest fires, amid a severe drought that destroyed hundreds of homes and left dozens dead.

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