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Catastrophic flooding hits Argentina

Dozens dead after worst flooding in a century

April 5, 2013

"We’ve never seen anything like it"

—Daniel Scioli

Dozens of people have died and 1,500 have been forced to evacuate in the Argentine city of La Plata, capital of Buenos Aires province according to government officials. Record flash floods have killed at least 54 people this week, destroying thousands of homes and renewing tensions as politicians blamed one another for the high death toll.

The area has experienced the heaviest April rainfall in more than a century. Helicopter footage showed vast swaths of La Plata flooded, and Sergio Berni, the deputy minister of security, said the flood was the city’s worst ever. Many shop owners said they had lost all their produce under three feet of water.

The government has declared three days of national mourning after what it called “an unprecedented catastrophe”. “We’ve never seen anything like it,” provincial governor Daniel Scioli said.

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.

President Cristina Fernandez, who grew up near La Plata, visited the flood zone and promised to send more police to calm people’s fear that evacuated homes could be looted. 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.

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

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