Argentina floods 'catastrophe' for La Plata, Buenos Aires

In La Plata alone, 50 people are known to have died

Related Stories

Emergency workers in Argentina continue to try to rescue residents stranded by flooding in Buenos Aires and La Plata.

More than 50 people are known to have died after one of the heaviest storms recorded caused flash floods.

Thousands were evacuated from their homes and dozens are still stranded on rooftops, treetops and the roofs of city buses, local media report.

The government has declared three days of national mourning after what it called "an unprecedented catastrophe".

'Death trap'

"We've never seen anything like it," provincial governor Daniel Scioli said.

BBC map

"People were taken by surprise, and some didn't have time to escape this deadly trap," Mr Scioli said, referring to the speed with which the waters rose.

Provincial officials said 40cm (16in) of rain fell on the city of La Plata in the space of two hours late on Tuesday night.

Earlier, the storm had dumped 15cm of rainfall on the capital, Buenos Aires.

Local officials said at least 48 people were killed in La Plata, six in Buenos Aires and two in its suburbs. The Red Cross said most of the victims had been elderly people who drowned in their homes.

So far, only half of the bodies have been identified and rescue workers fear the number of dead may rise as more bodies are found as the flood waters recede.

Fear of looting

Firefighter Federico Langone said in some areas of La Plata, the flood waters had reached a height of 1.5m (5ft).

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (C) in Villa Mitre in Buenos Aires (3 April 2013) The president visited some of the worst affected areas

More than 3,000 people had to leave their homes and 80,000 still do not have electricity, with two of La Plata's hospitals also affected by the power cuts.

On Wednesday night, some of La Plata's residents set up roadblocks to "protect their neighbourhoods from looters".

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner on Wednesday visited Tolosa, the worst affected neighbourhood of La Plata, where she grew up and where her mother still lives.

Ms Fernandez acknowledged residents' fears and promised to increase security.

Before her arrival, dozens of people had looted a supermarket. Three police officers were injured in scuffles with people trying to break into two other supermarkets.

Officials said 400 extra police officers and soldiers would be deployed to La Plata.

Clean-up

In Buenos Aires, where the rains had been at their worst overnight Monday to Tuesday, the floods have begun to recede and residents have started the clean-up.

Damp clothes and furniture were piled by roadsides as neighbours assessed the damage to their homes.

Mayor Mauricio Macri said about 350,000 people had been affected by the torrents of rain. Hundreds are still in shelters.

Pope Francis, an Argentine, has called on the authorities to step up their assistance to those left homeless by the storm.

The Pope sent a telegram to his newly appointed successor as Buenos Aires Archbishop, Mario Poli, saying he was praying for those who died, their families and survivors of the disaster.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Latin America & Caribbean stories

RSS

Features

  • Cesc FabregasFair price?

    Have some football clubs overpaid for their new players?


  • Woman and hairdryerBlow back

    Would banning high-power appliances actually save energy?


  • Members of staff at James Stevenson Flags hold a Union Jack and Saltire flag UK minus Scotland

    Does the rest of the UK care if the Scots become independent?


  • Women doing ice bucket challengeChill factor

    How much has the Ice Bucket Challenge achieved?


  • Women in front of Windows XP posterUpgrade angst

    Readers share their experiences of replacing their operating system


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.