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Snow Blanketing South America Kills 250,000 Alpacas, at Least 5 People Dead [VIDEO]

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Aug 29, 2013 01:21 PM EDT
A man clears snow on La Cumbre, some 30 km (18.6 miles) near La Paz, August 28, 2013. Unusually heavy snowfall has been reported on the highlands in Bolivia, according to local media
Approximately 250,000 alpacas have died as a result of the worst snowfall Peru has seen in a decade, and the unexpectedly intense blast of winter weather has claimed livestock and human life in other parts of South America as well. (Photo : Reuters )

Approximately 250,000 alpacas have died as a result of the worst snowfall Peru has seen in a decade, and the unexpectedly intense blast of winter weather has claimed livestock and human life in other parts of South America as well.

A cold weather front from the Antarctic began to spread across South America earlier this week, with some regions devastated by the snowfall, and others reveling in it. Heavy snow fell upon a large swath of South America, from Peru and Bolivia in the northwest to Paraguay and Brazil in the southeast.

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Peruvian President Ollanta Humala Tasso declared state of emergency in the nation's southern Puno region, where the snow has isolated thousands of families who make their living by breeding alpacas.

One unnamed Peruvian woman told Reuters that villagers have been trying to reach their herds for three days without success.

At least five people have died as a result of the cold weather across the southern hemisphere continent, where it is still winter. In Bolivia heavy snowfall claimed three lives and in neighboring Paraguay two people reportedly died of hypothermia due to the cold font, which has killed 4,000 cattle and affected 30 percent of the nation's wheat crop, according to a report by the AFP.

Ruined wheat crops will drive up the price of what remains, Paraguay's agriculture minister Jorge Gattini said.

The icy blanket of snow covering Peru and Bolivia prevented alpacas and other livestock from being able to graze on the land, resulting in their starvation and subsequent death, according to a Reuters report.

In Bolivia's capital, La Paz, temperatures were 8 or 9 degrees Celsius below average, Al Jazeera reported, adding that the Atacama Desert in Chile, often regarded as one of the driest places on Earth, saw the heaviest snowfall the region has seen in 30 years.

In Brazil the snow was seen as a treat, as told by a Reuters report, which featured Brazilians happily playing in the winter snow.

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