YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Chile's Storms Cause Chaos, Kill 9

Weather: Thousands flee homes. Copper production, stock market are disrupted.

June 05, 2002|From Reuters

SANTIAGO, Chile — Serious storms killed nine people, forced thousands from their homes and disrupted business in Chile on Tuesday.

Meteorologists said the torrential rains sweeping in from the Pacific might be the beginning of a new El Nino weather phenomenon.

The Santiago stock exchange closed two hours early, and production at a key copper mine was halted.

The National Office of Emergencies said it was the worst flooding in more than a century in Chile. More than 7.8 inches of rain had fallen on Santiago since Sunday, according to meteorologists, two-thirds the capital's average rainfall for a year.

"We have been up all night fighting against this," said homeowner Claudio Rojas, sweeping rainwater from his house in a low-lying neighborhood near the Santiago airport.

Police helicopters plucked stranded residents from flooded rural areas northwest of Santiago. Treetops and roofs poked through the brown water.

Government officials said the homes of 33,000 people in central Chile had been seriously damaged. Several thousand people took shelter in schools and public buildings.

A blackout caused by the storms halted copper production at the Los Bronces mine, owned by a unit of Exxon Mobil Corp.

The stock market closed early for a second straight session, and trading in the Chilean peso also was limited. The currency slid 0.26%, partly because of a fall in the Brazilian real.

Weather experts said the Chilean storms could be a sign that the El Nino phenomenon, which begins in the Pacific, is taking shape.

Los Angeles Times Articles