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Heavy rains in Chile cause floods, landslides that kill 3

By Andrew V. Pestano
Heavy rains in Chile cause floods, landslides that kill 3
Chilean rescue and search teams look for victims after heavy rains caused landslides in the San Jose de Maipo region near Santiago, Chile, on Sunday. File Photo by Esteban Garay/EPA

Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Officials in Chile declared a red alert in several regions due to heavy rains that caused flooding and landslides that killed at least three people as wildfires continue to burn.

Chile's Ministry of Interior and Public Safety on Monday said the Antofagasta, Atacama, Coquimbo, Valparaíso, Metropolitana de Santiago and the O'Higgins administrative divisions are under a red alert. The agency, known as ONEMI, said at least 19 people are missing.

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"Lamentable news of flooding in the central zone of our country. I call on the population to follow directions from emergency agencies," Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said in a statement. "Teams in charge of the emergency are working on the ground to connect isolated people and restore the water supply as soon as possible."

ONEMI said the flooding has affected the potable water access to thousands of Chileans, while tens of thousands more could be affected.

ONEMI said 830 people are stranded, 380 people have been sheltered and two homes have been destroyed due to the effects of the heavy rain.

Chile has also been fighting against what Bachelet called "the most brutal fire our history has ever recorded" for weeks. The wildfires killed at least 11 people and left about 6,000 people homeless after destroying more than 1,500 homes.

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ONEMI on Sunday said 20 of those wildfires are under control, firefighters are attempting to control six and 14 fires have been extinguished.

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