SANTIAGO – The death toll from last week’s torrential rains in northern Chile has risen to 17, while another 20 people have gone missing, government officials said Monday, adding that more bodies might still be found under the mud in the coming days.
The latest count of fatalities, provided by Deputy Interior Secretary Mahmud Aleuy, includes three new victims of the disaster affecting the regions of Coquimbo, Atacama and Antofagasta.
Meanwhile the director of the ONEMI emergency management office, Ricardo Toro, said there are “high possibilities” of finding more bodies under the mud.
“When there are 17 simultaneous rainstorms and we don’t have access on land to check everything that is going on, it means that day after day there’s always the chance that more people will go missing or be killed,” Toro said.
The disaster has affected a total of 26,406 people, of whom 4,134 are staying in the 30 shelters provided by the government.
At the same time, a total of 22,204 homes were found to have suffered minor damages, while 5,904 were damaged badly by the torrential rains that hit the arid north of this Southern Hemisphere nation last Tuesday and caused rivers to overflow that in some cases had been dry for more than 20 years.
According to Toro, the water supply is one of the most complex problems faced by the Atacama and Antofagasta regions, where the number of homes without access to drinking water has risen to 7,112.
Up to now a total of 629 tons of humanitarian aid have been delivered to those affected by one of the worst natural disasters the South American country has suffered in recent years.