Flooding has hit parts of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. The hardest-hit country, Paraguay, has declared a state of emergency.
NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Rio de Janeiro tells our Newscast unit that the flooding has killed five people and displaced 150,000. Here's more from Lourdes:
"In Paraguay's capital, Asuncion, 125,000 homes were without power as electricity distribution centers were knocked out across the country. Rescue operations are also underway to bring stranded families to safety. The mayor of one town in Uruguay called it the worst flooding in 50 years.
In Argentina, the country's vice president traveled to one of the affected regions to assess the damage. The wet weather is being blamed on the El Nino phenomenon, which affects the climate of the whole region. While there are floods in the southern cones, drought has been affecting parts of Colombia, and reservoirs are running dry there."
Authorities say the Paraguay River rose to nearly 24 feet on Wednesday. "That's near its highest level of 1983, when it reached 25.3 feet," The Associated Press reports.
The flooding is most dangerous for residents of low-lying slums, the wire service says. "Most are seeking shelter in camps on higher ground, where they're sleeping in improvised tents."