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Argentina Floods*

Heavy rainfall floods Argentina's Pampas

At least 4,000 people evacuate

October 20, 2001 Posted: 3:00 AM EDT (0700 GMT)

Workers clean a road in Junin, some 320 kilometers (200 miles) west of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday.



BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- More than a month of heavy rains have flooded large swaths of the Argentine countryside, washing out farmland and forcing the evacuation of more than 4,000 people across Argentina's famed Pampas.

The hardest-hit area was the fertile farming regions of Buenos Aires province, where thousands of acres of fields and grazing lands are submerged, officials said.

There have been no reported deaths or injuries. Nonetheless, authorities projected more than $300 million in damages, signaling yet another blow to a slumping economy.

The lieutenant governor of Buenos Aires province said more than half of the province was reported to be underwater, calling it some of the worst flooding in decades.

"We don't have any record of such a flood in recent memory," said Felipe Sola.

Authorities estimate more than 8.6 million acres were under water. In many places, farmers rowed about their properties in small boats, and cattle stood knee-deep in water.

Authorities have declared 59 of the 134 districts that make up Argentina's largest province "disaster areas." The flooding has also encroached on large parts of the central provinces of Cordoba, Santa Fe and La Pampa.

Officials said heavy rainfall has been reported 21 of the last 27 days. While the rains subsided on Friday, weather forecasters were predicting heavy rains to continue next week.

More than 10,000 farmers have already been affected with losses expected to rise further, said Harold Lebed, a provincial agriculture official.

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