Cold snap kills 16 in Chile's capital

Updated: 2012-07-09 06:41


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SANTIAGO - Freezing temperatures in Chile's capital Santiago claimed more lives Sunday, raising the number of cold-related deaths to 16.

Sunday's first victim died at 1 am local time on La Paz street, in the capital's downtown area, and a second victim died around the same time some five blocks from the government palace of La Moneda, officials said.

The second victim was a 50-year-old man found lying under a tree, in a makeshift shelter with a roof and mattress.

Both victims are presumed to have been homeless people who succumbed to hypothermia.

The lowest temperature so far this winter was recorded in Chile around dawn Sunday, when the mercury fell to 21 degrees F (-6.1 C).

The government has opened 73 temporary shelters around the country for the homeless sleeping in the streets, and also established a toll-free telephone number which people can call to alert shelters of the location of the homeless people, so officials can go to pick them up.

According to official figures, some 12,550 Chileans are homeless, among whom 765 are minors.