Asuncion, Dec 25: Flooding have dampened Christmas eve celebrations in parts of Latin America, leaving five people dead and driving almost 150,000 from their homes in Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay. Also Read - Abandon support for Maduro, Trump warns Venezuelan military

Some 130,000 people have been forced from their homes across Paraguay, officials said yesterday, as President Horacio Cartes declared a state of emergency to free up more than USD3.5 million in disaster funds. Three people traveling Paraguay’s international Route 2, which links Asuncion and Foz de Iguazu in Brazil were killed when a tree fell on their vehicle before dawn. Also Read - Palm oil imports drop 2.31pc in Jan: SEA

Another woman traveling by motorcycle in Asuncion was killed by a falling tree overnight, official sources told AFP. The National Emergency Secretariat (SEN) reported a dozen other similar incidents in the capital. The agency’s head of operations, David Arellano, said rescue and evacuation operations were underway for dozens of families in the face of floodwaters from the Paraguay River. Also Read - Two-wheeler exports from India rise 19.5 pc in Apr-Jan

Around the capital Asuncion 125,000 homes were without power and 17 power distribution centers knocked out across the country. Northeastern Argentina also reported widespread disruption and one fatality from the worst flooding in half a century.

A 13-year-old boy was electrocuted by a power cable while trying to assess storm damage to his home in the city of Corrientes, local media reported.

In Entre Rios province at least 10,000 people were evacuated, with Concordia, a city of some 170,000 on the banks of the Uruguay River, the worst affected with nonstop rain throughout the night, Mayor Enrique Crest said. “This is the worst flooding in 50 years,” he said, adding that although “flooding was predicted due to El Nino, no one thought that it would be so substantial.”

The city is located 18 kilometers from the Salto Grande dam, which was helping to hold the waters back, but was nearing its full capacity, Crest said. The governor of Entre Rios said the total number of evacuees across the province could rise to “between 16,000 to 20,000.”

Argentina’s vice president, Gabriela Michetti, traveled yesterday to the affected region to view the damage and assess disaster relief needs. The country has declared a state of emergency for the Panama, Uruguay and Paraguay rivers and their tributaries, following exceptionally high rainfall.