Floods taint wa­ter in Chile’s cap­i­tal

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

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.

AP/ESTEBAN FELIX

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.

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