MONTEVIDEO – The number of people forced from their homes by flooding across four northwestern provinces has increased to 21,991 people, Uruguay’s National Emergency System, or Sinae, said on Wednesday.
The agency said 10,054 people were evacuated in Artigas province, 6,677 in Paysandu, 57 in Rio Negro, and 5,203 in Salto.
Recent heavy rains have swollen the Uruguay River and its tributaries, including the Cuareim, which flows through Artigas.
In Artigas city, the Cuareim River crested at 15.28 meters (50 feet) on Dec. 23 and has since decreased to 12.4 meters (40.6 feet), though it remains above the designated safe level of 10.2 meters (33.4 feet), Sinae said.
The Uruguay River has risen to 9.1 meters (30 feet) in Paysandu, more than 3 meters above the safe level, and to 16.3 meters (53.4 feet) in Salto, 4 meters above the safe level.
Residents evacuated by authorities are placed in temporary shelters coordinated by the emergency services, while those who left on their own are staying in private homes or makeshift camps.