Latin America & Caribbean

Rescued Chilean miner loses home in flash floods

Victor Zamora as he is taken on a trolley to the field hospital after being brought to surface from the San Jose mine, near Copiapo, Chile, on October 13, 2010. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Victor Zamora spent 69 days trapped underground

One of the Chilean miners who was trapped underground for 69 days in 2010 has lost his home in flash floods in northern Chile.

Victor Zamora told local media that he had lost everything. "It's a tragedy," he said.

Ten people lost their lives, 19 are missing and hundreds lost their homes in floods in the Atacama desert region, one of the driest places on earth.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has described the situation as bleak.

She said many villages remained isolated and needed urgent help.

President Bachelet said it was likely the number of dead would increase as many people remain unaccounted for.

The storms, which began on Tuesday evening, have cut off roads, caused power cuts and severed communications.

Mr Zamora said the floods came when everyone was asleep. He said he was only able to get away with a few things.

"Me and my neighbours are trying to help each other," he said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The river Copiapo overflowed into the streets of the city
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The government declared a state of emergency after the floods.

Flash floods in the Atacama region turned riverbeds that had been dry for years into torrents.

Residents scrambled onto the roofs of their homes or fled to high ground to escape the floodwaters, as streets turned into rivers that swept up everything in their path.

Many mines in the major copper producing area have temporarily suspended production.

The floods come as southern Chile struggles with huge wildfires made worse by a severe drought.

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