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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 May, 2003, 04:36 GMT 05:36 UK
Argentina floods kill 18
Only the roof of the houses emerge off the water in the city of Santa Fe, Argentina, 1 May 2003
The waters have started to recede

The death toll from floods in Argentina's northern province of Santa Fe has climbed to at least 18.

The authorities say they expect to find more bodies as the flood waters of the Salado River are beginning to recede.

At least 40% of the state was inundated by water in the worst flooding to hit the region in five centuries.

At least 60,000 people were evacuated from their homes.

The World Bank has said it will lend $123m to help locals recover from what the President Eduardo Duhalde has called "a national disaster".

The BBC's Peter Greste, in the capital Buenos Aires, says Argentines are not waiting for the money. Thousands of people have been collecting donations in the capital and sending them north to Santa Fe.

Record rainfall

Police helicopters are patrolling the main city, Santa Fe, to prevent looting.

The Red Cross on Friday said it was having to halt distribution of aid after dusk for safety reasons, and there have been reports of some trucks carrying aid being hijacked by robbers.

Many residents have been waiting out the flooding on the rooftops of their homes, fearing looting.

Troops have been helping with the relief effort, distributing food, medicine and clothing to people camped out in school buildings and other makeshift sites.

The flat agricultural lands in the north-central region of Argentina are used to rain, but never in the past 500 years have they seen anything like the flooding of the past week.

The region experienced almost a metre and a half of rainfall in just two days - almost twice the average for an entire year.

Santa Fe City, built on the Salado River, has a population of about 400,000.

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Country profile: Argentina
29 Apr 03  |  Country profiles

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