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S. America having bitter winter weather

Aug. 5, 2010 at 4:46 PM

BUENOS AIRES, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Unusually cold winter weather has hit Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia, causing "millions of dead fish" in Bolivian rivers, officials said.

The extreme cold and large amount of snow in Brazil and Argentine, including parts of Buenos Aires, is caused by a polar front that is plaguing most of the southern part of South America with zero and sub-zero temperatures, MercoPress reported Wednesday.

South America suffers through winter while North America swelters in summer.

In the Patagonian area of Argentina and in the Andes, snow reached more than 3 feet deep, ruining livestock and crops and isolating villages, MercoPress reported.

Argentina's National Weather Forecast Service announced a freezing peak could come over the weekend.

The freezing cold caused new power-consumption records to be set in Argentina and Uruguay. Residential demand was supplied, but hundreds of industries sustained a predicted blackout, said Argentina's Planning ministry.

Gov. Ruben Costas said the province of Argentina was undergoing a "major environmental catastrophe" and said the population should not use of river water, due to the dead fish and plants, the report said.

Costas said the government would send in drinking water.

"The last time something of this magnitude happened was 47 years ago," Costas said.

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