Buenos Aires, Mar 13 (EFE).- The natural collapse of the ice arch formed by the Perito Moreno glacier over the Magellan Peninsula of Argentino Lake caused floods in the nearby town of El Calafate, forcing evacuations, officials told EFE Tuesday.
In the early hours of Tuesday, the lake, located inside Los Glaciares National Park in the southern province of Santa Cruz, rose to a maximum level of 1.4 meters (4.6 feet) before the waters began receding.
Municipal officials, quoted by state news agency Telam, estimated that the situation would return to normal in two or three days.
Clean-up efforts continue in some areas, while a score of people are not being allowed to return home as a precaution, El Calafate city manager Martin Freile said.
Some of the displaced residents have been lodged in a municipal shelter and others chose to stay with relatives.
The rupture of the arch, considered one of the world’s most awesome natural events, occurred at 10:48 pm on Sunday.
The process, which began on Saturday and had not happened since March 2016, usually attracts hundreds of tourists who were unable to observe the giant white bridge’s rupture this time because the area was closed overnight for public safety reasons.
The rupture is caused by lake waters’ increasing pressure on a natural dam or bridge that Perito Moreno builds up as it advances over the rocky shore.
Cracks develop in the natural dam until it bursts, providing observers with an impressive spectacle.
The Perito Moreno glacier, covering some 200 sq. kilometers (77 sq. miles), is located in the Andean ridge, the natural border between Argentina and Chile, and it is one of the few glaciers in the world that remain stable and without erosion as a result of climate change.
Perito Moreno’s 60-meter (198-foot) front wall, as tall as a 20-story building, is five kilometers (3.1 miles) wide.