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Flood displaces thousands in Argentina

By LEANDRO PRADA   |   Aug. 19, 2002 at 8:43 PM
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BUENOS AIRES, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Argentina joined the growing list of countries around the world hit by floods in the past week, as rising waters Monday swept Greater Buenos Aires, leaving one person dead and forcing some 2,000 people to evacuate their homes.

The Argentine capital, its suburbs and three riverside central provinces were pounded by flood waters from the Matanza River following severe storms Sunday night that continued until Monday morning.

The river bisects the Matanza district of Buenos Aires, a densely populated area with a population of 1.5 million people packed in a few square miles west of Buenos Aires.

Salvador Ingrassia, the director of Argentina's Civil Defense, said firemen "began evacuating Matanza's lowlands at 4 a.m. (Monday)" and took the injured to area hospitals for treatment, according to La Nacion newspaper. There were no official estimates for the number of people injured in the flood.

The evacuated people were sent to makeshift shelters where they can remain until the water recedes. The Argentine National Weather Service forecasts more storms and winds reaching 50 mph for the area.

Other officials said some area residents did not want to leave, fearful that looters would take advantage of the flood to rob their homes.

Argentina is experiencing a sharp rise in the number of thefts and kidnappings following its economical and political collapse that began with rioting in December 2001.

Floods have also hit Europe and China. In Germany and the Czech Republic, disaster relief officials were worried about illness related to the stagnant waters and inadequate sanitation. In China, authorities continue to deal with millions of people displaced by monsoon rains.

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