by Staff Writers
Santiago , Chile (AFP) Jan 22, 2013
More than two million people in the Chilean capital were without drinking water Tuesday because of contamination in a river that supplies the city with water, officials said.
Water was shut down to more than 593,000 homes in the metropolitan area, beginning early Tuesday until at least midnight, forcing the closure of restaurants, offices and playgrounds in areas affected by the cutoff.
"We had an emergency event owing to circumstances beyond our control that forced us to cut water," said Cristian Esquivel, spokesman for the Aguas Andinas water utility.
The water company initially cut off water to 15 neighborhoods, but later extended the shut-off to 21 neighborhoods, Esquivel said.
Meanwhile, President Sebastian Pinera promised the problem would be resolved "before the end of this day."
Aguas Andinas said a landslide in the Maipo river, the city's main source of water, had fouled the company's water processing plants.
Tanker-trucks distributed water in several neighborhoods, while many supermarkets and stores saw their shelves emptied of bottled water.
The city has a population of about five million people.
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