BUENOS AIRES – The cold wave affecting the Southern Cone of Latin America has killed at least five people and forced the closure of major highways, authorities in Argentina and Uruguay said Thursday.
A woman and her two children died of carbon monoxide poisoning Wednesday in an apartment in the Argentine town of Dock Sud, while an indigent man died of hypothermia while sleeping in a parking garage in La Plata.
The Buenos Aires municipal government says that it has doubled the resources made available to help the 1,400 people who are estimated to live on the capital’s streets.
“All the deaths from the cold are avoidable,” warned the organization Solidarity Network in a communique, and its volunteers each night are scouring the streets of Buenos Aires “to work with the people who are sleeping out of doors.”
The National Meteorological Service said Thursday that “the wave of cold air of polar origin is affecting the entire Argentine territory,” with temperatures in Patagonia of down to minus 11 C (12 F) and in the country’s central and northern areas down to minus 5 C (23 F).
The cold wave is expected to last until next Tuesday.
Meanwhile, snow fell on Thursday in unexpected spots including the seaside resort of Mar del Plata.
The Argentine highway administration reported that snow had been falling heavily since Thursday morning in a broad swath of the country, blocking roads and causing accidents in numerous spots.
Authorities in neighboring Uruguay said the cold wave caused the death of one man in the eastern province of Rocha.
Temperatures in Uruguay have dipped as low as minus 2 C (28 F).
The forecast is for “icy and very cold (conditions) with frost” to last at least until Saturday. Meanwhile, in several parts of the region the strong possibility exists for both hail and sleet. EFE