Cold Weather Proves Killer in Parts of South America

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Walter Hupiu / epa / Corbis

Strange but true: despite blazing hot temperatures, sometimes in the triple digits, sweeping across the United States, the opposite is true in much of South America where a cold front has actually claimed more than 400 lives in parts of Peru and Argentina.

The temperatures, which have hovered in the upper 30s in the southern part of the continent qualify as a rather typical winter by North American standards. But in some places, like the Andes mountains the thermometer has dropped as low as -11 degrees F and decimated alpaca and cattle herds.

The usually subtropical areas affected are particularly vulnerable because the populations are largely poor, live in conditions that are not equipped for cold weather and the governments do not have the infrastructure to handle winter conditions.

However, the Peruvian government has declared a state of emergency, which will allow officials to spend funds on getting aid to those most affected by the cold snap.