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Heavy snow halts 6,000 trucks at Argentina-Chile border

14.06.2007
 
Heavy snow halts 6,000 trucks at Argentina-Chile border

The international highway connecting both South American countries through the Andes Mountains will be blocked for at least three days more.

As usual during the austral winter, heavy snows battered the Andean border region of Argentina and Chile on Wednesday, forcing the closure of the main mountain highway connecting the two countries. Long lines of vehicles, most of them trucks, remained under a heavy snow storm waiting to cross the border at freezing temperatures.

According to Argentinean officials, some 2,500 trucks were halted on the Argentine side of the border and 3,000 more on the Chilean side. As weather conditions are expected to continue until the end of the week, the amount of vehicles halted will surely increase in the next hours.

Argentine transit officials predicted the Cristo Redentor tunnel, a nearly two-mile passage drilled into the mountains at 10,400 feet above sea level, would be impassible for 72 hours because of snowstorms and high winds, government news agency Telam reported.

Authorities said Heavy snow and high winds in mountain elevations were forecast to continue Thursday. Temperatures in Argentina fell far below zero as a polar winds came from the south. The Patagonia region registered temperatures of less than minus ten.

In Bariloche, a popular sky resort 1,000 kilometers southwest of Buenos Aires, schools and public buildings were closed on Wednesday as a heavy snowstorm with winds of 150 kilometers per hour fell over the city.

Also on Wednesday, days of intermittent heavy fog that hampered domestic air travel lifted in the capital and check-in workers at the Jorge Newbery airport in Buenos Aires returned from a two-day strike that stranded 20,000 travelers. The workers struck to demand greater security after some were attacked by passengers irate over the fog delays.

Hernan Etchaleco

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