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Old 12-29-09, 05:34 PM
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Argentinians flee deadly floods

Floods leave 3,000 displaced in Argentina; at least 2 people dead
December 29, 2009 -- Updated 2029 GMT (0429 HKT)

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

Quote:
* At least two people have been killed and 3,000 displaced, officials said
* City of San Antonio de Areco was hit particularly hard, with 90 blocks underwater
* Illegal irrigation canals have been blamed for worsening the flooding
* Federal officials, local authorities working to provide aid to evacuees
(CNN) -- Rain-fueled flooding in Argentina has killed at least two people and forced the evacuation of 3,000 residents, officials said Tuesday.

The city of San Antonio de Areco, in northern Buenos Aires Province, was hit particularly hard, with 90 blocks underwater, Gov. Daniel Scioli told the state-run Telam news agency. He said the flooding was unlike any he had seen, and it caught the area by surprise.

"The ambulance was underwater. So were the doctors' cars," Scioli said. "Water even reached the Guiraldes Museum, with its rich heritage."

Alejandro Delgado Morales, director of press and information for Buenos Aires Province, told CNN there had been two deaths but could not provide further details.

San Antonio de Areco is about 120 kilometers (75 miles) northwest of the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital.

In addition to relentless rain for the past three days, canals built illegally to irrigate farmland have been blamed for the severity of the flooding. Scioli, who toured the area by helicopter, said a legal investigation will be launched to determine to what extent the canals worsened the flooding.

Police, firefighters and soldiers were carrying out the evacuations. The army also has established a water-purification plant and brought a mobile hospital to the area.

Other parts of the nation also have suffered flooding, development minister Alicia Kirchner said Tuesday. Federal officials were working with local authorities to provide aid to evacuated residents.

"In this first stage, we have to try to work to solve the problems of those who have been evacuated by providing food and medicine, and that's what we are doing," Telam quoted her as saying.

CNN's Esprit Smith contributed to this report.


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