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anonymous wHAT IS HAPPENING IN CHILE! May 23, 2008 4:19 PM

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Heavy rains and flooding

that killed five people and displaced thousands
in south-central Chile have collapsed road and
rail bridges, closed the world's largest underground
copper mine and left many in the capital
without drinking water, the government
said on Friday.

Many schools remained closed in Santiago and
elsewhere after floodwaters churned up sediment
at water treatment plants, while several rivers burst
their banks farther south, deluging thousands of homes.

"More than seven rivers have overflowed,"
said Juan Saldivia, undersecretary of public works.
"We had a very complex situation overnight, and
Route 5 (Chile's main north-south highway) has been
cut in three places."

Landslides caused by the rains also forced the
shutdown of the giant El Teniente copper mine,
owned by state miner Codelco.

Codelco said it could take 48 hours to clear rock,
earth and floodwaters blocking access to the mine,
which lies 50 miles south of Santiago and was
recovering from disruptions from the latest in a
series of strikes by subcontractor workers.

Television footage showed a collapsed railway
bridge in the wine-producing region of Maule,
about 125 miles south of Santiago, which forced
the suspension of rail services to the south.

The government said 8,000 homes had been
affected and that 316 people were stranded
across the country. About 500 people were in
shelters while most of around 15,000 forced
from their homes were living with friends
and family.

Of the five people killed earlier in the week
by the flooding, two died in landslides,
one was struck by a boulder and another
was hit by a falling tree. One man died
of hypothermia.

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