Persistent rainfall and floods in central and east Argentina have killed eleven people and forced the evacuation of at least 50.000 according to the latest Saturday official reports from the affected provinces.
Most of the victims are from the rich province of Santa Fe also known as Argentina's dairy farm. Because of the intensity of precipitation, lack of electricity and flooding of roads and some sectors of highways the supply of milk to several processing plants has fallen significantly. In Rosario, one of Argentina's most populated cities and main cereal exporting port at least 9.000 people had to be evacuated from their homes. Santa Fe province head of Civil Defense Eduardo Wagner revealed that "12 of the 19 counties" are suffering from floods and the overflow of the mighty Parana River. "This is something most unusual, I can't recall a similar situation, 400 millimeters of rainfall in 72 hours". "It's very difficult for any city to support such conditions" added Wagner in reference to the city of Santa Fe (half a million inhabitants), next to the Parana River and which has suffered the full impact of the floods with 10.000 people forced to abandon their homes. Torrential rainfall and floods also extended to the provinces of Cordoba (central Argentina), north of Buenos Aires and to the east, Entre Rios. Of the total 38.000 evacuees reported in Santa Fe, 16.000 are children below the age of 14, of which 600 babies and 750 pregnant women according to a non government organization Solidarity Net that has provided food and blankets in some of the refuges. An estimated three million hectares of the richest farm land in Argentina has been flooded or is inaccessible with total loss of crops ready to be harvested. Entre Rios Health minister Gustavo Bordet described the situation as "critical and unparalleled" since it has been cloudy or raining for the last three weeks. "The worst was last Monday when rainfall in 24 hours reached 200 millimeters", plus the fact we have the overflow of the river Parana. "This is a catastrophe" warned Alfredo De Angelis, president of the Gualeguaychu Agrarian Federation. Meantime in neighboring Uruguay, (to the east), also suffering from torrential rain and flooding, local authorities reported that 471 people have been evacuated but also pointed out that the number is "higher" since some families abandoned their homes on their own and are not registered. In Fray Bentos where the controversial Botnia-Orion pulp mill is under construction, 360 millimeters of rainfall were registered in 72 hours, "a record, unknown for this area", said Chief Councilor Omar Lafluf. "Damage to crops and infrastructure has been great and extensive, it will take time and funds to overcome the situation", underlined Lafluf.