At least 53 killed in storms, floods hitting Americas

At least 53 killed in storms, floods hitting Americas

At least 53 killed in storms, floods hitting Americas

Locals attempt to recover belongings at a flooded neighbourhood in Asuncion on December 24, 2015. AFP Photo

Storms hit the U.S.’ south and western parts over the Christmas holiday weekend, unleashing floods and tornadoes that killed at least 43 people, while at least 10 people were killed in mudslides due to floods in the South American countries of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina.  

The bad weather, or the threat of it, prompted the governors of Missouri and New Mexico to declare a state of emergency for their states. 

Flash floods killed at least 13 people in Missouri and Illinois. 

In Missouri, emergency workers have evacuated residents from their homes and conducted dozens of water rescues, Governor Jay Nixon said on Dec. 27. He said at least eight people had been killed and numerous roadways had been closed. 

Three adults and two children were near the village of Patoka, Illinois, when their car was washed away by floodwaters on the night of Dec. 26, according to Marion County Coroner Troy Cannon. 

In Texas, at least 11 people were killed in the Dallas area over the weekend by tornadoes, including one packing winds of up to 322 kilometers per hour. The twister hit the city of Garland, killing eight people and blowing vehicles off highways. 

“It is total devastation,” Garland Police spokesman Lieutenant Pedro Barineau said. 

Three other deaths were reported in the Dallas metropolitan area, the United States’ fourth most populous with about 7 million residents. 

Powerful tornadoes are a staple of spring and summer in central states but occur less frequently in winter, according to U.S. weather data. 

The storms came on the heels of tornadoes that hit two days before Christmas, killing at least 18 people, including 10 in Mississippi. 

The bad weather forced the cancellation of nearly 1,500 flights in the nation on Dec. 27, according to tracking service About half of the canceled flights were in Dallas, a major U.S. flight hub.  

At least 10 killed in floods in South America

Meanwhile in South America, torrential rains and flooding now have claimed at least 10 lives, officials said on Dec. 27.

The epic rainfall also has driven 160,000 people from their homes in Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay, said officials.

Authorities said fatalities from the current violent weather include two deaths in Argentina and four in Paraguay, while mudslides have killed at least four people in Brazil. 

“The Paraguay River has swollen almost to eight meters. Not even the most dramatic forecasts called for that in December,” The director of Paraguay’s weather service, Julian Baez, told a briefing.

If rains continue to the north as forecasters expect, the flood levels could tie or pass their record nine meters in 1983, when the capital’s busy port area was under water, Baez warned.

Driving rains in the metropolitan Sao Paulo area in southern Brazil let loose a mudslide that killed a total of four people in two homes in Itapecerica da Serra, state officials said.

In northeastern Argentina, two people were killed and about 20,000 were evacuated from their homes by flooding caused by a rise in the level of the Uruguay River, authorities said.