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Flooding from torrential rains causes emergency in Paraguay

May 8, 2019
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A boat transports people displaced by a flooded street in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Officials in Paraguay say they have had to evacuate some 40,000 people in recent weeks because of flooding from unusually heavy rains across the South American nation. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
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A boat transports people displaced by a flooded street in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Officials in Paraguay say they have had to evacuate some 40,000 people in recent weeks because of flooding from unusually heavy rains across the South American nation. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — Paraguay declared a state of emergency Wednesday in a province along the border with Argentina as torrential rains continued to swell rivers and cause floods.

About 40,000 Paraguayans have been forced to evacuate their homes in recent weeks due to rising waters.

Officials say that more than 11,000 of the evacuees live in the capital of Asuncion. Although, they were moved to higher ground at military bases, public squares and roadsides, some have complained of an inefficient government response.

“The government treats us like animals,” said evacuee Cecilia Salgueiro. “It should have rolled up its sleeves and built a defensive (barrier) along the coast” to avoid the waters from reaching low-lying flood-prone slums.

The emergency declaration covers hard-hit Neembucu province, about 190 miles (300 kilometers) south of Asuncion. Most of its territory contains wetlands, and Gov. Luis Benitez said in a tweet that “the situation is difficult and critical for six of our towns.”

Other evacuees are spread throughout the landlocked country along the rain-swollen Paraguay River, which originates in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Its normal stage is 4 meters (13 feet), but it has reached 6.75 meters (22 feet) in the capital due to unusually heavy rains since March.

“We’re not getting any help from the National Emergency Office,” complained Alejandro Ortiz, who is staying on the first floor at his home after the ground floor flooded.

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