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Water & Sanitation

4 Million People in Chile Stuck Without Clean Water After Devastating Floods

AP Photo/Esteban Felix

Floods in Chile have left more than 4 million people without clean water.

After the country’s dry summer months, heavier rain than usual resulted in devastating flooding outside Santiago between Saturday and Sunday. 

As rain poured into the Maipo river it carried debris from mudslides, contaminating the region’s main clean water supply. 

The damage from flooding is estimated to affect at least 1 million people. As of late Sunday night, three people have died, 19 are missing, and 373 people were stranded, requiring emergency services and rescue, according to the Guardian.  

One of the victims, a 12-year-old girl, was killed when a landslide caught and buried the car she was in. The bodies of two other victims were found in a riverbed near Santiago.

People were also cut off from leaving their homes as bridges and infrastructure were destroyed. 

“The force of nature swept away bridges and left 1,200 people cut off,” said Vanessa Marimon, governor of Cordillera province, on of the affected districts. 

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Aguas Andinas, the company that supplies water around Santiago, said that continued rains are making repairs difficult. The company has set up emergency water stations in some areas, and as of 8:30 am claimed to have 50% of its water plants working in the affected regions. Though as of Sunday evening, 60% of the city’s 6.5 million people had dry taps and no access to clean drinking water. 

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Schools were set to reopen after summer break, but have been told to remain closed until further notice, as were businesses and restaurants in the area. 

This is the second major flooding the country has experienced in the past year. In April 2016, flooding in the San Juan de Maipo region shut down copper mining for several of the country’s largest mines, according to Reuters

Chile seems to be stuck in a period of extremes. 

The flooding comes not long after droughts left farmers in southern Chile without water and wildfires raged throughout the country. The swings reflect the disastrous and escalating effects of climate change.

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