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News > Latin America

Uruguay Floods Force Thousands from Homes During Holidays

  • Uruguay is one of the countries most affected by flooding.

    Uruguay is one of the countries most affected by flooding. | Photo: Sinae

Published 2 January 2016

Around 24,000 people spent the holidays in sheltered accommodation and campsites due to massive floods in Uruguay’s north. 

Extreme floods in northern Uruguay meant approximately 23,500 were forced out of their homes during Christmas and New Year’s, according to figures from the National Emergency System of Uruguay.

The latest report from the agency released Friday said that so far around 2,136 people had to be evacuated, while a further 21,248 have been displaced since the floods began in late December.

The National Emergency System warned that the displaced can only return to their homes once water levels fall and "after the affected areas have been cleaned and disinfected."

The department of Artigas in the country’s far north was the worst affected area with 10,545 evacuated, while 6,701 in Paysandu and 5,804 in Salto were also forced from their homes.

The floods caused significant damage and displacement in Bella Union and Rio Negro regions as well.

The following is a table with river levels and details of the evacuated and displaced. 

Uruguay’s northern region has been hit by heavy rains since December causing a rise in the Uruguay River and its tributaries, such as the Cuareim which is close to the city of Artigas.

Authorities were forced to declare a state of emergency last month in the provinces of Artigas, Paysandu, Rivera and Salto.

In the city of Bella Union the Uruguay river level is now at 8.7 meters, 2 meters above the freeboard, which is 6.5 meters. While in Paysandu the river currently flows at a height of 9.1 meters, when it normally flows at around of 5.5 meters.

Evacuees have been stationed in numerous campsites in the area where the army provides and support.

Griselda, who is currently staying in an emergency area in Paysandu, told El Pais the army brings a basket of food people in the camps every "12 days," which consists of bottle of oil, a kilo of flour, a packet of noodles, and kilo of sugar.

NEWS: South America Floods Death Toll Hits 10

Gonzalez, another evacuee said the local government only delivers the sufficient foodstuffs to "shelters or camps implemented by the authorities" and not the ones set up by stranded people.

The floods have been attributed by climate experts to the El Niño weather phenomenon, which has flooded several other South American countries, such as Paraguay and Brazil.

The phenomenon causes temperatures to rise during disturbing weather patterns.

VIDEOS: South American Floods Displace 180,000

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