ASUNCION – Paraguayan riot police fired rubber bullets into a crowd of flood victims to break up their protest after they, among some 50,000 Asuncion residents, were driven from their homes by the overflowing Paraguay river.
The riot police rushed at them in front of the SEN emergency management agency, where residents of the Bañados, the two neighborhoods hit hardest by the overflowing river, gathered to demand the resignation of agency chief Joaquin Roa.
Some 30 police officers twice charged at the crowd firing rubber bullets, while a tanker truck blasted the protesters with water, some of whom responded by throwing rocks at the cops.
Three people showed EFE their injuries caused by the rubber bullets before they went to be treated by paramedics.
The incidents occurred Friday, a week after the cresting Paraguay River overflowed in Asuncion and began to drive the first to be affected from their homes.
To date some 50,000 people have been displaced, of whom about 35,000 where hit by the latest floods, while the rest have been homeless since the floods of 2014.
Most of the displaced persons live in shelters provided by the government, while many others have built the kind of shacks that make up Asuncion’s shantytowns.
The neighborhood organizations of the Bañados blast the government for not responding earlier to the rising Paraguay River, which this year overflowed due to the downpours caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon.
They also complained that many refugees lack any kind of shelter.
The Paraguay River rose 7 meters (23 feet) Tuesday and on Friday reached a height of 7.2 meters (24 feet).
The SEN does not dismiss the possibility that the river will rise 7.5 meters (25 feet) by Christmas Day.