December 22, 2014
Deadly rains flood capital, Greater BA
The rain had started on Monday night, but it reached its maximum peak at dawn yesterday, with various sources reporting that between 140-190 millimetres of rain fell in only two hours, a record rainfall not seen in the month of April in at least 100 years. There were several power outages and flooded roads. Key major streets and avenues turned into streams and rivers that trapped several vehicles, and even carried some cars away with its current. Hundreds of people had to be evacuated throughout BA. As night fell upon this metropolis, protests were reported in some areas. The foul weather is expected to continue today.
The most intense rains occurred between 3 and 5.30am. It was reported that over 190 millilitres of rainfall had fallen in total throughout the day. In some neighbourhoods visibility was only 500 metres during the most intense periods of the rainstorm.
Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri, who came back from vacation in the Brazilian state of Bahía because of the emergency, stated that this was the second most intense rainfall since 1906, over 100 years ago and that at least 350,000 people had been affected by the rainstorm, with 300 people evacuated from the Mitre neighbourhood.
Throughout the afternoon, the rain continued to complicate the situation, even though it had weakened considerably.
News channels favourable to the Kirchnerite administration reported protests against Macri, while TN, the channel owned by the Clarín media group, showed residents of the Greater Buenos Aires district of Villa Martelli claiming Tecnópolis (the government-sponsored science fair) was responsible for their flooding.
Buenos Aires City Minister of Environment and Public Space Diego Santilli announced that the most affected areas were Lugano, Mataderos, Belgrano and Liniers.
The strong rain led many parts of the city that usually suffer when these type of storms occur to completely collapse because of flooding and power outages. Major avenues and routes of the city were cut off.
Some of the key routes that were flooded were Cabilido, Avenue Libertador, Avenue Juan B. Justo and highways such as 25 de Mayo, General Paz, Pan-American, and the Buenos Aires-La Plata highway.
At least 11 Buenos Aires City neighbourhoods faced power outages; Devoto, Villa Urquiza, Flores, Belgrano, Liniers, Saavedra, Coghlan and Barracas were some of the notable ones.
All city transport services were affected. The Sarmiento and Mitre train lines services were interrupted, subway lines were out of service due to a protest over a workers death, and several buses were stuck or stranded. On the Pan-American highway a bus was completely underwater, three trucks were trapped and various cars were seen floating with the flood’s current.
At 4.30am the Emergency Control Services Centre began to receive several calls pleading for help, alerting officials to the critical conditions being faced by neighbourhoods located in the northern parts of the city.
By 6pm in the afternoon eight deaths had been confirmed by Security Minister Sergio Berni in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, who reported that Emergency Metropolitan Services were on a state of high alert due to the dire situation.
City government officials officially confirmed six deaths in Buenos Aires City. A few of the deaths caused by the abrupt storm are reported to have occurred in cars and residential buildings.
These are a few of the reported deaths: a subway worker in his 40s at the Los Incas line B subway station (See also story on this page), an elderly couple in their 80s in the Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Saavedra, a 60-year-old man in the Villa Urquiza neighbourhood who died in his car, a 45-year-old in Villa del Parque, an 90-year old woman in Belgrano. As more information came in, the death toll gradually changed throughout the night.
Highway National Director (DNV) Ernesto Arriaga announced that residents should avoid going out, using vehicles and entering zones that are inundated with water.