Deadly cold snap hits Argentina, Uruguay, Chile

An intense cold front is rearing its head across South America, killing dozens, closing down highways, and killing cattle across the Andes.

At least 26 people have died in Argentina, from a combination of exposure to harsh climates, poisoning from carbon monoxide inhalation, and other factors, according to the Associated Press.

The front, which set in Saturday, has remained over much of the countries in the Southern Hemisphere, which are in the height of winter now.

As authorities respond to shelter for thousands in need, the cold snap could wreak havoc on farmers for months to come. Argentina is just coming out of one of its worst droughts in five decades, which saw cows dying and grassland shriveled last year. In neighboring Paraguay, authorities say approximately 1,000 cattle have frozen to death.

Ten people have died in Paraguay, while in Uruguay, some two deaths have been reported due to low temperatures as of Tuesday. The Andina news agency reports that pregnant alpacas in Peru have been losing their babies.

As one reader noted on the CNN website: “I think many people are failing to realize that in some parts of these countries there is no infrastructure to handle these temperatures. While it may seem like a mild winter to some of us in the US, these places do not have similar well-heated homes. Some of them live in basic shacks.”

In Bolivia, school was cancelled through at least Wednesday, as the nation faced 18 deaths due to low temperatures. In the eastern city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, an opposition stronghold in this normally tropical region, the temperature, at 37 F, was the lowest reported in nearly three decades. Elsewhere in the country it dropped below freezing.

In Chile, the Associated Press reports that the capital, Santiago, has turned a sports stadium into a shelter after one reported death linked to exposure.

And further south, in the Aysen region (Summer Photo Essay), heavy snow has cut off access to many small towns that dot this sparsely-populated province. Weather forecasters say that this cold front could persist through tonight, and into tomorrow.

source AFP

Other news