Fire on container docking at Argentine capital's port emits hazardous gas, sparks panic in city's south; cloud eventually disperses by heavy rain, which in turn causes massive floods across parts of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires experienced a tough Thursday as the city suffered both a toxic gas
cloud scare and flash floods, brought on by unusually heavy rain.
The Argentine capital was first startled by news that a fire on a container carrying hazardous chemicals and docking in the Port of Buenos Aires
caused a cloud of toxic gas to rise above the city, sending a harsh chemical odor that enveloped a radius of five to seven miles and sparking panic across the city.
The stench crawled into downtown Buenos Aires affecting the areas housing the Congress, Government House and the financial district. Much of the commercial and financial activity was suspended.
Argentina’s National Security Secretary Sergio Berni confirmed that the fire had been put out, and stressed that the chemical substances inside the container were of "little danger" to the public.
"The situation is completely under control. What needs to be highlighted is the brave decision of the Federal Police, who risked their lives and opened the container, not knowing what was inside," Berni told a press conference.
Afternoon hours saw the gas cloud dispersed by torrential rains which poured on Buenos Aires, sparking a flash flood in the low parts or the city. The area's public transportation was paralyzed by the rising water and partial blackouts soon followed.
The heavy storm hit the Argentine capital in the early hours of the afternoon. The city's Nunez and Belgrano areas were the most affected, with water quickly rising above 1.3 meters.
Greater Buenos Aires areas, such as Burzaco and San Isidro, were flooded as well.
Argentina's National Weather Forecasting Service (SMN) warned that the stormy weather was likely to continue Friday, with heavy rains and thunderstorms in Buenos Aires City, Rio de la Plata, the Cordoba province, Entre Rios, La Pampa, the eastern part of Mendoza, San Luis, the south and central part of Santa Fe and the south of Santiago del Estero.