Devastating floods have now displaced as many as 160,000 people across four South American nations, according to the latest figures released Sunday.
The disaster has destroyed homes and crippled infrastructure across the border regions of Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina since Dec. 18.
Paraguay has been the worst hit, with an estimated 100,000 people displaced, according to local media. At least 20,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Argentina, according to state broadcaster Telam, while another 9,000 have been displaced in Uruguay.
At least eight people have been killed across the region. In Paraguay alone, emergency efforts are expected to cost as much as US$3.5 million, according to President Horacio Cartes.
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The floods were sparked by a week of severe rains, which experts say are linked to the El Niño weather pattern.
Forecasters say the region could end up suffering one of its largest floods in 60 years, according to local media.
“Severe droughts and devastating flooding being experienced throughout the tropics and subtropical zones bear the hallmarks of this El Niño,” said Michel Jarraud, head of the United Nations World Meteorological Organization.
The organization says the current El Niño is the worst in 15 years.
In June 2014, around 75,000 people were evacuated in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion amid extensive flooding caused by torrential rains.
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