MONTEVIDEO – The heavy rains that have fallen in the northern Uruguayan provinces of Artigas, Paysandu, Rivera and Salto in recent days have displaced 5,454 people from their homes, the National Emergencies System, or Sinae, said Thursday in a communique.
The zone is being affected by the rise in the Uruguay River resulting from the rains, and top Sinae officials have declared a state of emergency in those provinces.
Of the total number of displaced people, 1,504 were evacuated by the authorities and 3,950 left their homes on their own without government help.
By provinces, 2,148 people left their homes in Artigas, 884 in Paysandu, 1,051 in Rivera and 1,369 in Salto.
In addition, two people were evacuated in the central province of Florida.
The Sinae report says that some people who self-evacuated have not yet been tallied, and so in some provinces “the estimates show a larger number of displaced people” than those who have been officially counted.
Regarding the level in the Uruguay River, Sinae said that the city of Bella Union in Artigas registered a level of 8.95 meters (29.4 feet), well above its maximum safe level of 6.5 meters (21.3 feet).
In Paysandu, the river level stands at 8.44 meters (27.7 feet), almost three meters above the safe level of 5.5 meters (18 feet).
And in Salto, the river level stands at 15.9 meters (52.1 feet), which is four meters above the safe level of 12 meters (39.4 feet).
The flooding so far has taken the lives of two people.
The state-run UTE electricity company says that 5,100 of its customers have had their service affected nationwide, with 1,300 customers have lost power, although personnel are working to restore it.