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World Briefing / Chile

Few drops of rain set off emergency

July 22, 2009|TIMES WIRE REPORTS

In one of the driest regions on Earth, even a drizzle can cause an emergency.

Less than 100th of an inch of rain fell on the Chilean port city of Iquique, accompanied by wind of about 10 mph. That was enough to knock out power to several neighborhoods and damage the roofs of 4,000 precarious dwellings, Gov. Miguel Silva said.

With little water to worry about, many of Iquique's poor live in homes covered with bits of wood, plaster or cardboard that are easily damaged by a little rain and wind. Many have no slope to let water run off.

Schools were closed so the damage could be repaired. No injuries were reported.

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