by Staff Writers
Buenos Aires (AFP) April 7, 2013
Damage from last week's record rains and flooding in Argentina exceeded five billion dollars, according to officials, who said on Sunday that more than 350,000 people suffered losses in property.
"More than 350,000 of our neighbors were affected directly or indirectly by the storm, which caused 2.6 billion pesos (five billion dollars) in damage," according to a press release by the Telam government news agency.
Officials said 59 people are confirmed to have died in the disaster, after two days of storms unleashed torrential rains which led to historic flooding.
Flooding submerged cars and sent people scrambling to rooftops for safety, inundating Buenos Aires and the city of La Plata, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of the capital.
Authorities said the storm damaged some 60,000 homes in La Plata -- about a quarter of all the dwellings in the city of nearly one million people.
The population of Buenos Aires, where the storm damage was not quite as severe, is about 16 million.
President Cristina Kirchner set three days of national mourning in honor of the victims which was due to end on Sunday.
Several days after the disaster, officials on Sunday were continuing to distribute water, food, clothing and medicine to those in need.
The storms drenched Buenos Aires Monday into Tuesday, then dumped a staggering 40 centimeters (16 inches) of rain fell on La Plata during a two-hour period one day later, knocking out phone and power lines and leaving about half the city in the dark.
Flood waters reached two meters (seven feet) in some places, turning roadways into raging rivers.
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