Published: February 27,2017
Rainstorms and landslides triggered by rainfall in Santiago, Chile, left at least three people dead and contaminated a major river, forcing officials to cut off drinking water for 4 million people.
According to ONEMI, the national emergency office, at least 19 people remain missing in the capital city, which has a population of 6.5 million.
Office director Ricardo Toro told CTV News that a youth died in a car that was swept away by floodwaters in central Chile and two bodies were recovered from a river near Santiago.
Mudslides and rubble triggered by the rain surged into the Maipo River, which supplies water to most of the homes in the capital city, reports AFP.
"We are talking about 1.45 million homes that are going to be affected by the cutting off of the water supply, which will be total or partial in 30 districts" regional governor Claudio Orrego said in a statement obtained by AFP.
On Monday, Aguas Anginas, the company responsible for providing the capital with drinking water, released a statement saying it has managed to partially resume production of drinking water and roughly 50 percent of homes in Santiago have potable water. The main plant, Plant Las Viscachas, has resumed its operation.
In addition to the main plant, alternative supply points set up by the company and officials will be maintained until service is fully restored, according to ONEMI.
When residents were told about the lack of drinking water, many went out with buckets and pans to collect water from emergency taps set up by authorities and others rushed to supermarkets to purchase bottled water, AFP also reports. Restaurants and businesses without drinking water have been ordered to stay closed. The start of lessons for the new school term was also postponed.
In Cordillera province, bridges were swept away and 1,200 people were cut off, the area's governor Vanessa Marimon told AFP. Overall, 3,300 people were cut off by floods.
Sunday, three helicopters established an air bridge in San José de Maipo in order to send 1,065 liters of water, 117 food rations and 165 toilet kits, according to ONEMI.
Though February is part of the dry season in Santiago, a weak upper-level area of low pressure with sufficient moisture provided the spark for the heavy rain event near Santiago, according to weather.com senior meteorologist Jon Erdman. Normally, Santiago averages a scant .03 inch of rain for the month.
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