BUENOS AIRES – With temperatures up to 50 C (122 F), the northern province of Santiago del Estero has become the epicenter of Argentina’s worst heat wave in 100 years.
At least seven people have died over the past few days in this province some 1,100 kilometers (660 miles) north of Buenos Aires for causes related to the extreme temperatures, provincial health officials said Tuesday.
Another person died in the neighboring province of Salta.
Hundreds of people in Santiago del Estero have required emergency treatment for problems related to the extreme heat, such as sunstrokes, heatstrokes, fainting and dehydration.
In the central part of the province, the irrigation canals and wetlands that normally serve as watering holes for animals are being used in the emergency as pools for cooling off from the intense heat, while in the city, residents take to swimming pools and decorative fountains.
Santiago del Estero is also suffering from a prolonged drought, which is causing significant losses in agriculture and stock raising.
This is the worst heat wave in central and northern Argentina since meteorological records began to be kept systematically in 1906, according to the National Meteorological Service, or SMN.
The phenomenon is due “to dominant high pressures at the medium and upper atmospheric levels that impede the advance of colder masses of air from the south,” the SMN said.