Updated 09:11 PM EST, Wed, Jan 20, 2021

Paraguay Town Turns Into an Island as Flooding Worsens

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A town in Paraguay has turned into an island due to excessive flooding brought on by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Officials dread that the town of Alberdi is on the brink of being completely submerged that will lead to thousands of casualties, teleSUR reported. The town is currently only accessible via boat or airplanes.

Alberdi is located 130 km south of the Paraguayan capital of Asunción and has a population of 10,000, teleSUR noted. On Saturday, residents reportedly refused to evacuate despite of pressing warnings from authorities that flood defenses were threatening to collapse.

"The retaining wall is leaking. Water is coming through in gushes and according to our experts the risk level that it will explode and opens up like a tsunami is great," Paraguay's National Emergency Minister Joaquin Roa said, as quoted in the news outlet's report.

Alberdi's flat and low geography made the town defenseless to the growing floods, teleSUR added. The flood defense wall, which was constructed in 1983, had been protecting the area from disaster until recently. However, experts said that the construction is no match for El Niño.

"The residents of Alberdi do not want to believe that the wall could come down. The speed of the water is impressive. Added to that is the surge of the big cargo ships, the barges with containers that ceaselessly plough through the main canal of the river. All of this is unsettling the defense," said Alberdi Mayor Federico Centurion, as quoted by teleSUR.

He continued, "If the wall breaks in the night there is going to be tragedy." 50 families have been advised to evacuate, but they are not heeding warnings.

The town is among the casualties of El Niño, the weather phenomenon that has caused heavy downpours over South America since November, the news outlet further reported. Around 170,000 people in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay have lost their homes and properties as the rivers of Paraguay, Parana, Iguazu, Uruguay, and other streams surged. Those who were affected greatly by the catastrophe have belonged to the poorest individuals in the region.

At least 10 deaths due to the floods across the area have been reported, teleSUR added. Numbers are expected to climb as mudslides and rivers rising by over eight meters continued to threaten the region during the holidays.

Paraguay and Uruguay have both declared state of emergencies, according to Yahoo! News. Argentine President Mauricio Macri assured that 66 percent of the reconstruction aid will go to areas where 20,000 people were evacuated due to the severe flooding in the region, Fox News Latino reported.

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