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Winter storm kills 17, traps motorists in Chile

June 21, 1997
Web posted at: 9:34 p.m. EDT (0134 GMT)

SANTIAGO, Chile (CNN) -- Torrential rainfall and heavy snow have plagued various parts of Chile this week, affecting hundreds of families and blocking roads. Reports said at least 17 people have died nationwide.

In the capital, intense rainfall was accompanied by 125 kph (80 mph) winds that toppled trees. The weather caused chaos for traffic, because most Santiago streets were under water.

The continuing rainfall has left hundreds homeless in the northern desert region of the country where these kinds of storms are unusual.

Meanwhile, more than 200 people have been trapped by a blizzard since Wednesday at two border stations high in the Andes on the Argentine-Chilean frontier, with all roads to them cut by more than 1.3 meters (4 feet) of snow.

Officials said it was not possible to pick them up by helicopter as planned because of the high winds.

All activity was halted in Chilean ports because of the storm, and many highways were closed by flooding.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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