World

Communities in northern Chile dig out of mud after major floods kill 9, leave several missing

  • A woman rests on a mattress on a mud covered street after rains caused heavy flooding in Copiapo, Chile, Thursday, March 26, 2015. Unusually heavy thunder storms and torrential rains that began on Tuesday have blocked roads, caused power outages and affected some 600 people on this normally dry region. (AP Photo/Aton Chile, Marcelo Hernandez) - CHILE OUT - NO USAR EN CHILE

    A woman rests on a mattress on a mud covered street after rains caused heavy flooding in Copiapo, Chile, Thursday, March 26, 2015. Unusually heavy thunder storms and torrential rains that began on Tuesday have blocked roads, caused power outages and affected some 600 people on this normally dry region. (AP Photo/Aton Chile, Marcelo Hernandez) - CHILE OUT - NO USAR EN CHILE  (The Associated Press)

  • People carry their belongings as they walk on a mud covered street in Chanaral, Chile, Friday, March 27, 2015. Unusually heavy thunder storms, torrential rains and overflowing rivers that began on Tuesday left tons of mud covering communes of northern Chile desert, that left at least nine dead and villages without water, electricity or communications. (AP Photo/Pablo Sanhueza) CHILE OUT - NO USAR EN CHILE

    People carry their belongings as they walk on a mud covered street in Chanaral, Chile, Friday, March 27, 2015. Unusually heavy thunder storms, torrential rains and overflowing rivers that began on Tuesday left tons of mud covering communes of northern Chile desert, that left at least nine dead and villages without water, electricity or communications. (AP Photo/Pablo Sanhueza) CHILE OUT - NO USAR EN CHILE  (The Associated Press)

  • People stand on the edge of a mud covered street in Chanaral, Chile, Friday, March 27, 2015. Unusually heavy thunder storms, torrential rains and overflowing rivers that began on Tuesday left tons of mud covering communes of northern Chile desert, that left at least nine dead and villages without water, electricity or communications. (AP Photo/Pablo Sanhueza) CHILE OUT - NO USAR EN CHILE

    People stand on the edge of a mud covered street in Chanaral, Chile, Friday, March 27, 2015. Unusually heavy thunder storms, torrential rains and overflowing rivers that began on Tuesday left tons of mud covering communes of northern Chile desert, that left at least nine dead and villages without water, electricity or communications. (AP Photo/Pablo Sanhueza) CHILE OUT - NO USAR EN CHILE  (The Associated Press)

Communities in Chile's northern desert region are digging houses out of the mud and working to reopen roads after floods pummeled several cities and left nine people dead.

Interior Sub-secretary Mahmud Aleuy said Friday that at least 19 people were also missing after torrential rains hit the Atacama Desert, the world's driest.

Aleuy said roads had been cut to over 40 communities, many of which did not have access to potable water or electricity.

The heavy rains on Wednesday and Thursday swelled rivers and led to flash-flooding in cities including Copiapo, Chanaral, Tierra Amarilla and Taltal, all hundreds of miles (kilometers) north of Santiago.

President Michelle Bachelet said authorities were sending medicines, including insulin, anti-hepatitis and tetanus shots, to stave off outbreaks.