Chilean storm kills two
SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) -- Torrential rain and winds pounded central
and southern Chile, killing at least two people and closing the main
commercial border crossing with Argentina, local officials said Monday.
Copper mines in the affected regions reported no damage or interruption
operations. Chile, the world's No. 1 copper producer, extracts most of the
mineral in the northern Atacama Desert, which was untouched by the storm.
The central port of Valparaiso, which ships most of the country's fresh
exports, has been closed since Saturday morning, while the adjacent San
Antonio port was operating normally Monday, a port spokesman said.
Other small ports in southern Chile were reported closed.
The main border crossing between Chile and Argentina for commercial traffic,
Los Libertadores, which is high in the Andes, was closed due to snow blocking
the road, the National Emergency Office said.
The storm, which the emergency office called "very unusual," caused damage
overnight Sunday mostly in the capital, Santiago, and the central coastal region.
"Two people in Valparaiso were killed because their simple brick houses,
on hillsides where there were numerous landslides, collapsed," the emergency
office said in a report.
Gales toppled trees, caused power blackouts in several neighborhoods and
off rooftops in Santiago early Monday.
An estimated 500 people were forced to flee their flooded homes. Television
images showed Chileans wading through hip-high water on the streets and
mopping out flooded homes.
A similar storm hit the same regions of Chile earlier this month.
Copyright 2001 Reuters