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160,000 Flee Their Homes as Devastating Flooding Hits South America

Climate

More than 100,000 people have been evacuated throughout the bordering areas of Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil as severe flooding continued to batter South America this weekend.

According to new figures released Sunday by the Municipal Emergencies office, as many as 160,000 people have had to flee their homes due to the flooding that began Dec. 18—a devastating result of this season's El Niño storms.

Many of those impacted are low-income families living along the Paraguay River, a major river that runs through Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.

"[The flooding] was directly influenced by the El Niño phenomenon which has intensified the frequency and intensity of rains," the office said.

As the United Nations weather agency, the World Meteorological Organization, warned last month, this year's storm season is the worst in more than 15 years and is likely to bring yet more flooding and droughts to the tropics and subtropics.

The flooding in South America follows recent severe storms in Yemen and Mexico. In October, after Hurricane Patricia made landfall in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and Manzanillo, Mexico, and forced the evacuation of 50,000 people, due to climate change, it was "exactly the kind of terrifying storm we can expect to see more frequently in the decades to come," Slate meteorologist Eric Holthaus reported.

Paraguay has been the hardest hit, with an estimated 100,000 displaced, while 20,000 have been left homeless in Argentina and 9,000 in Uruguay. At least eight people have been killed across the region, according to local media.

Paraguay's emergencies office also said the river is likely to rise in the coming days and may not subside until January.

Paraguay has reportedly declared a state of emergency in Asunción.

As Corrientes governor Ricardo Colombi said on Sunday, "the consequences [of the flooding] will be serious."

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