Sunday, June 18, 2017

Snowstorm Leaves Hundreds Cut Off in Southern Argentina

BUENOS AIRES – Some 600 residents of the southern Argentine province of Chubut have been cut off from the outside world due to a snowstorm, local media reported Tuesday.

Several pieces of road-clearing equipment are being used to try and open the ranch roads in the area, where sheep and cattle have also been isolated and there are substantial difficulties in getting them fed due to the storm, which left up to 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) of snow on the ground completely burying the available grass.

“The intense winds after the snowstorm complicated the situation because they covered the roads again that had already been cleared with the machines,” highways chief Patricio Musande told Argentine television when asked about the situation in Chubut, which is some 1,800 kilometers (about 1,120 miles) from Buenos Aires.

Pedro Miguel Schmalz, manager of the Valle Huemules ranch in Lago Blanco, told capital daily La Nacion that he has lived there for 38 years and has never seen “such an intense storm, despite the fact that the winters are very hard.”

“There was a combination of factors: the heavy snows, freezes and winds that created very high walls of snow. People are isolated,” said Digna Hernando de Blanco, the head of the Rural Society in the coastal city of Comodoro Rivadavia.

She calculated that about 600 local residents had been isolated in towns in the area, most of whom are involved in the production of wool.

“We still cannot quantify the (economic) losses, but they will be significant. We’re talking about the most productive province in the country in terms of wool,” said Hernando de Blanco.

Meanwhile, personnel from the highway department and emergency services continued their work with a helicopter and road-clearing machinery to attempt to establish a land link with the isolated communities. EFE

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