Disasters & Accidents

Snowstorm strands hundreds of vehicles in Argentine Andes

Buenos Aires, Jul 10 (EFE).- A heavy snowstorm left hundreds of vehicles stranded at the International Cristo Redentor Pass more than 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) above sea level on the border between Argentina and Chile, forcing authorities to evacuate “about 300 people,” border pass officials reported Sunday.

“We have about 300 people in the Argentine sector who were evacuated by the authorities since yesterday at 6 in the afternoon and who have been working all night on that. Not all of them have been evacuated yet,” the international traffic coordinator at the Cristo Redentor Pass, Eduardo Yaya, told the TN news channel.

The weather problems began at midday on Saturday, when adverse conditions forces authorities to halt traffic across the international border in the Andes Mountains, a situation that caused “a pile-up of vehicles of all types.”

“In a weather situation, with deficiencies in the highway work, the quantity of vehicles that were in transit was not foreseen. Cargo vehicles (and others) were on the route, meaning that all the traffic was delayed, the snow came and all traffic came to a halt and was stranded in the high mountains,” said Yaya, adding that the stranded people had to endure temperatures of -15 C (5 F) during the night.

To deal with the situation, Argentine authorities created a “crisis committee” made up of Mendoza provincial government representatives, the provincial Civil Defense corps and the national Border Police, who will be in charge of evacuating the people who still remain at the pass.

Yaya said that “the vehicles will remain at the site” until the weather improves, which is expected to occur on Monday.

“The national highway authorities (of Argentina) and Chile have to open … the road, leave a little channel where passage through snow can occur and transport all those people to the Uspallata area. The vehicles are still not being removed from the site, only the people,” he said.

EFE jacb/mah/bp

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