Wednesday
July 23, 2014

41k cubic metres more water flowing over famous falls

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Iguazú waterfalls closed to the public amid flooding

An aerial view of the Iguazú Falls is seen in the northwestern province of Misiones. Authorities were forced to close down parts of the iconic Iguazú National Park this week after heavy rainfall in the region caused the Paraná, the river feeding into the falls, to flood.

A record 43,000 cubic metres of water per second were thundering over the Iguazú waterfalls yesterday — 41,000 more than usual for this time of the year — leading officials from the national park to restrict access to visitors.

A swollen Iguazú basin has converged on the waterfalls shared by Brazil and Argentina and into the Paraná River. The natural phenomenon has caused road closures in Misiones and Corrientes provinces and even ripped a soon-to-be-inaugurated floating casino from its mooring lines.

Tourist trails were closed and visits suspended yesterday in Iguazú National Park, despite commercial and hotel zones remaining open. The first site to be closed off yesterday was the world-famous Devil’s Throat, where on the most normal of days, tourists can expect to be drenched in water.

“In accordance with established safety protocols and given the extraordinary rise of the Iguazú River, we’re going to prioritize the safety of visitors and workers of the waterfall area,” Juan Sergio Bikauskas, head of the national park, said in a news release.

The Iguazú River saw 43,000 cubic metres of water volume per second yesterday, shattering the usual water volume for this time of the year of 1,500 cubic metres. The previously registered record was of 36,000 metres in 1992 — or 10,000 less than yesterday’s record — when 28 sections of walkways were ripped apart and when officials took 20 days to repair the tourist circuit.

Just last Saturday the flow of water had reached 2,300 cubic metres per second, according to Carlos Corvalán, National Park Adminsitration president, who told the state-run Télam news agency that the cause of the rapid rise had been the heavy rains above the Iguazú basin in Brazil. Flooding in Brazil had killed a dozen people by people press time yesterday, according to local news reports.

Floating casino

One of the most evident signs of the damage caused by the thundering waters was the removal of a boat named Nicolás Mihanovich from its mooring lines.

The mooring lines of the 90-metre vessel with no motor — which was soon to be opened as a floating casino — were ripped apart on Monday, sending the boast down the Iguazú River before it entered the Paraná River and was rescued by river officials using two tugboats. Four technicians were on board the vessel at the time, the Clarín newspaper reported yesterday.

Paraná impact

The rising waters have had a direct impact on the section of the Paraná River that is fed by the Iguazú River at the borders between Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina’s Misiones province.

Officials yesterday reported that the Libertad, Eldorado and Libertador San Martín ports along the province’s section of the river had been closed. They were expecting the rising waters to reach the provincial capital Posadas sometime during last night and the early hours of the morning, and suggested Corrientes province to south was also to bear some of the consequences, with flooding expected to be worse than the last major flooding event in 2013. Residents of the provincial localities of Ituzaingó, Itá Ibaté, Itatí, Paso de la Patria, Corrientes City, Empedrado, Bella Vista, Goya and Esquina have been advised to remain on alert for heavy rains caused by expected storms, while farmers in the province have began evacuating livestock to higher ground, municipal authorities told Télam yesterday.

The situation began unfolding during the weekend when heavy rains of between 100 to 150 millimetres began falling on the far northern region of Misiones province and the Brazilian states of Matto Groso, Paraná and Santa Catarina.

Herald with online media

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