Monday, July 27, 2009

Drizzle causes emergency in Chilean city

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — In one of the driest regions on Earth, even a drizzle can cause an emergency.

Less than 1/100th of an inch of rain fell on the Chilean port city of Iquique Monday afternoon, accompanied by moderate winds of about 10 mph, according to the country's weather service. That was enough to knock out power to several neighborhoods and to damage the roofs of 4,000 houses, said Gov. Miguel Silva.

Schools were closed Tuesday so that officials can repair the damage.

The city of 170,000 people in northern Chile is in the heart of the barren Atacama Desert, squeezed between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean. It averages about 0.02 inch of rain a year, according to University of Chile meteorologists.

Houses in the region are not built to resist rain and their roofs often have no slope for runoff.

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