25 killed in Argentine floods

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) – At least 25 people died in flooding in the Argentine city of La Plata as torrential rains fell, the regional governor said Wednesday.

The deaths raised to 33 the number of people killed this week following record heavy rain in Argentina.

A powerful storm that earlier pummeled Buenos Aires slammed La Plata, located 63 kilometers (40 miles) south of the Argentine capital, overnight Tuesday to Wednesday.

“The bodies began to appear as the water subsided,” said Governor Daniel Scioli, who announced the death toll.

A record 40 centimeters (16 inches) of rain fell on La Plata in a two hour period, officials said, knocking out phone lines and leaving people in the dark.

Some 2,200 people fled the city because of heavy rain, and many of those who remained were forced to scramble to rooftops for safety.

The heavy rain turned many city streets into rivers. In parts of the downtown area water was reported to be 1.6 meters (five feet) deep.

“This has never happened in La Plata,” said Argentine Security Minister Sergio Berni.

“There are people on rooftops, in trees waiting for us to rescue them,” he said, adding that firefighters, civil defense workers, police and soldiers have been deployed to the area to help in rescue operations.

A senior city official in La Plata, Santiago Martorelli, told local television that the flooding was a “catastrophe.” He added that schools and local government were closed for Wednesday.

La Plata, population 895,000, is the administrative center of the province where Buenos Aires is located.

Eight people were killed Tuesday when the same powerful storm system battered the Argentine capital and its suburbs, knocking out power lines and downing trees.

More than 15 centimeters (six inches) of rain fell between midnight Monday and early Tuesday, the Buenos Aires weather service said, setting an April record.


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