Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Flood: Argentines lash out at politicians

05 April 2013, 09:02

La Plata - Argentine police and soldiers searched house to house, in creeks and culverts and even in trees for bodies on Thursday after floods killed at least 57 people in the province and city of Buenos Aires.

As torrential rains stopped and the waters receded, the crisis shifted to guaranteeing public health and safety in this provincial capital of nearly 1 million people. Safe drinking water was in short supply, and more than a quarter of a million people were without power, although authorities said most would get their lights back on overnight.

Many people barely escaped with their lives after seeing everything they own disappear under water reeking with sewage and fuel that rose nearly 2m high inside some homes. The wreckage was overwhelming: Piles of broken furniture, overturned cars, ruined food and other debris.

Their frustration was uncontainable as politicians arrived making promises. President Cristina Fernandez, Governor Daniel Scioli, Social Welfare Minister Alicia Kirchner and the mayors of Buenos Aires and La Plata were all booed when they tried to talk with victims. Many yelled "go away" and "you came too late".

"I understand you, I understand you're angry," Kirchner said before she and the governor fled in their motorcade from an angry crowd.

"There is no water, there is no electricity. We have nothing," said Nelly Cerrado, who was looking for donated clothing at a local school. "Terrible, terrible what we are going through. And no one comes. No one. Because here, it is neighbours who have to do everything."


The nearby Ensenada refinery, Argentina's largest, remained offline after flooding caused a fire that took hours to quench in the middle of the rainstorm, the state-run YPF oil company said.

Scioli said the death toll had risen to 51 people in and around La Plata, following six deaths in the national capital from flooding two days earlier. But he said nearly all of the missing had been accounted for.

The victims included a member of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights group, Lucila Ahumada de Inama, who was found under 1.7m of water inside her home. She died without having found her grandson, born in captivity after her pregnant daughter-in-law was kidnapped by Argentina's dictatorship in 1977.

Some flooded residents were being lauded as heroes. Alejandro Fernandez, a 44-year-old policeman who was off-duty when the rains started, pulled out his rubber boat and shuttled about 100 neighbours to higher ground. His neighbour, Dr Jose Alberto Avelar, turned his home into a clinic, treating dozens for hypothermia.

Fernandez "won't say it because he's too humble, but what he did was incredible", Avelar said. "His action got everyone else helping as well."

A store and an elementary school were looted, but police and troops were helping residents guard neighbourhoods to prevent more crimes. In addition to 750 provincial police officers, the national government sent in army, coast guard, police and social welfare workers.

Pope sends message of support

Mobile hospitals were activated after two major hospitals were flooded, and government workers were handing out donated water, canned food and clothing. Provincial Health Minister Alejandro Collia said hepatitis shots were being given at 33 evacuation centres, and that spraying would kill mosquitoes that spread dengue fever.

"The humanitarian question comes first. The material questions will be resolved in time," said Scioli, who promised subsidies, loans and tax exemptions for the victims.

Scioli also thanked Pope Francis for sending a message of support. The governor said "this has to give us all the strength to accompany these families".

Argentina's weather service had warned of severe thunderstorms, but nothing like rainfall that fell this week.

More than 400mm drenched La Plata in just a few hours late on Tuesday and early on Wednesday - more than has ever been recorded there for the entire month of April.

In both Buenos Aires and La Plata, sewage and storm drain systems were overwhelmed, and low-lying neighbourhoods looked something like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, with all but the upper parts of houses under water.

Twitter blunder

And in both cities, politicians sought to fix blame on their rivals as residents complained that government in general was ill-prepared and providing insufficient help.

It didn't help that the mayors of both cities were vacationing in Brazil when disaster struck.

Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri said Fernandez needs to foster expensive public works projects to cope with storms that will become more frequent due to climate change.

La Plata Mayor Pablo Bruera, meanwhile, arrived home to an additional, self-inflicted disaster: While he was in Brazil, a tweet sent from his official Twitter account falsely claimed he had been "checking on evacuation centres since last night". The tweet even included an old picture of Bruera handing out bottled water.

Bruera told reporters on Thursday that he would not resign over the false claim, and that he had instead fired the people responsible for what he called a "mistake by my communications team".



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...