By Ross Brown / The Santiago Times Staff
SANTIAGO — Officials in Chile have declared a red alert in several regions due to heavy rains that caused flooding and landslides that have so far killed at least three people.
Chile’s Ministry of Interior and Public Safety on Monday said that the Antofagasta, Atacama, Coquimbo, Valparaíso, Metropolitana de Santiago and the O’Higgins administrative divisions are under a red alert.
The agency, known as ONEMI, said at least 19 people are missing.
“Lamentable news of flooding in the central zone of our country. I call on the population to follow directions from emergency agencies,” Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said in a statement. “Teams in charge of the emergency are working on the ground to connect isolated people and restore the water supply as soon as possible.”
ONEMI said the flooding has affected the potable water access to thousands of Chileans, while tens of thousands more could be affected.
Some 830 people are stranded, 380 people have been sheltered and two homes have been destroyed due to the effects of the heavy rain, according to the agency.
Chile has also been fighting against what Bachelet called “the most brutal fire our history has ever recorded” for weeks. The wildfires killed at least 11 people and left about 6,000 people homeless after destroying more than 1,500 homes.
— with files from wires.