Chile: Flash Floods DREF Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) n° MDRCL011


A. Situation Analysis

Description of the Disaster

On 23 March 2015, an atypical hydrometeorological event occurred due to a high-altitude cold front that caused 14 consecutive hours of rain, which dropped an average of 14 to 34 mm of water and snow. This is equal to the average rainfall for an entire year in this arid and desert-like area of the country, resulting in increased water flow in the Andean rivers feeding other waterways in valleys and villages. Given the poor absorption of soils in these regions, the unusually prolonged and intense rains in the area caused mudslides and floods in various villages, affecting the regions of Antofagasta, Atacama and Coquimbo.

To date, 26 people are reported dead (according to Forensic Medical Services), 150 are missing (according to reports made to the Carabineros Police or Chile Investigative Police), and according to ONEMI, 29,741 have been affected, of whom 2,532 are in 28 collective shelters. The Atacama region has been the most affected with about half of the total number of affected people.

A disaster state of emergency was declared on 24 March, handing over control of security and freedom of movement of people to the Chilean Armed Forces and law enforcement. To this end, the communities of Antofagasta, Taltal and the Atacama Region were put under martial law, banning anyone from entering or leaving these cities. For its part, the Ministry of Health maintains a Health Alert for the communities of Copiapó, Chañaral, Caldera, Tierra Amarilla, Diego de Almagro, Alto del Carmen, Freirina, and Huasco and Vallenar in the Atacama Region.

A curfew has been imposed from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am for the safety of the population living in Chañaral, Copiapó, Tierra Amarilla and Diego de Almagro. Electricity has been restored under the coordination of the Electricity and Fuel Superintendence. Mud removal efforts in these areas have been carried out using machinery from the Ministry of Public Works, Chile's Army, municipal governments and the private sector. Strategic traffic bans are being put into effect to limit unnecessary transit of people not associated with the task forces, prioritizing efficiency in the restoration of utilities and connectivity efforts.

The following alerts are in effect:

Red Alert for the Region of Atacama due to a hydro-meteorological event.

Red Alert for the community of Antofagasta, Region of Antofagasta due to heavy rains.

Red Alert for the community of Tocopilla, Region of Antofagasta due to heavy rains.

Red Alert for the community of Taltal, Region of Antofagasta due to heavy rains.

Yellow Alert for the Region of Antofagasta due to heavy rains.

Yellow Alert for the Region of Coquimbo due to a hydro-meteorological event.

Preventive Early Warning for the province of Tamarugal, Region of Tarapacá due to heavy rains