Floods taint water in Chile’s capital
SANTIAGO, Chile — Rapid runoff of rainfall caused water contamination near Santiago, Chile, leaving millions of the capital city’s residents without water.
The rain caused flooding and destructive mudslides on mountainsides near the city over the weekend, killing at least three people, with 19 more reported missing.
The mudslides and floods in turn contaminated the Maipo River, a main source of drinking water for much of Santiago and the surrounding metropolitan region. The water utility Aguas Andinas, whose plants draw from the river, suspended service Sunday for about 1.5 million customers, affecting a total of about 5 million residents.
The utility began gradually restoring service to some areas after the river water reaching one of the utility’s plants cleared up faster than expected. But other restoration work was slowed by continuing rain, and most of the affected population was still without water service Monday afternoon.
The mudslides were caused in part by dry weather. Before the storm, the region had been seared by drought, and forest fires swept through several areas in south central Chile over the past month, weakening the landscape, said Ricardo Toro, director of the National Emergency Office.
Two girls refresh themselves while residents gather water from a fire hydrant Monday at a neighborhood in Santiago, Chile. Millions are without potable water in Santiago’s greater metropolitan area after floods and mudslides cut supplies.