BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Rising rivers in three rain-soaked provinces have forced some 38,000 people to flee their homes and floodwaters have claimed seven lives, authorities said Saturday.
Civil defense officials said Santa Fe province in Argentina’s northeast remained the hardest-hit, with about 30,000 evacuees in and around the provincial capital of Santa Fe, 250 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, and the cities of Rosario and Canada de Gomez.
Rain has lashed the region for five days, forcing evacuees to struggle through waist-deep waters with laundry baskets containing only a few possessions. Some tried to load refrigerators and TV sets on trucks and escape to higher ground, while others tried to cross flooded highways in small boats.
A woman’s body was recovered from the Parana River near Rosario, coast guard officials said Saturday. The bodies of two men were recovered Friday.
Authorities said Saturday a 70-year-old farmer died after he was swept away by the Gualeguay River in Entre Rios province while trying to rescue some of his livestock.
That brought to seven the dead over two days, including a man killed Friday trying to save a dog from a stream and an elderly man with Alzheimer’s disease who was alone when he drowned in his flooded home, authorities said.
Jose Salim Jodor, mayor of the Entre Rios city of Gualeguay, said about 8,000 people had to leave their water-filled homes in that low-lying province on Argentina’s eastern border with Uruguay. Meanwhile, some 400 flood victims were reported in central Cordoba province on the border with Santa Fe province.
President Nestor Kirchner pledged federal assistance for the victims, and residents of Buenos Aires have begun organizing charity drives of food and other emergency assistance for the hardest-hit areas.
Uruguayan authorities reported some 380 people had to be evacuated from regions near the Argentine border.