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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Citizens urged to steer clear of rivers, northern beaches this week

El Hippie River in Naguabo, where a young man drowned on Sunday. Two other cases of people being swept downstream in island rivers have also been reported in the past two days.

By The Star Staff

Bureau for Emergency Management and Disaster Administration Commissioner Nino Correa Filomeno said Tuesday that the island is experiencing a cold front that causes excessive rain in the afternoons, causing surging water in the rivers, with authorities responding to the drowning of a young man and several cases of people being swept away.

In addition, conditions at sea, specifically on the north coast, would deteriorate starting Tuesday afternoon, the official said.

“The call is to not go to the beaches and not visit the rivers on these rainy days,” Correa Filomeno said in a written statement. “Even if it is not raining where you are, downpours may be falling where the river begins and this causes sudden bursts of water to come down without warning. We already had a fatality on Sunday in Naguabo, another case of a person trapped in a “four track,” and yesterday, three tourists were swept away by the river in Naguabo. We do not want to have more fatalities or bad times due to situations in our rivers.”

On Sunday, a 21-year-old man drowned in the El Hippie River in the Florida neighborhood of Naguabo. That same day, a 43-year-old man who was riding an all-terrain vehicle was rescued after he was swept away by a rush of water in the Río Grande in Morovis and became trapped. On Monday, three young tourists were swept away by a burst of water, also in the El Hippie River in Naguabo. They were rescued and transported to the hospital after suffering bumps and bruises.

Meteorologist Ernesto Morales of the National Weather Service reported that the humidity will persist due to a cold front that will promote rainy conditions, at least until mid-week. At the end of the week, chances of rain will increase again. He also stressed that the risk of rip currents will increase from moderate to high on the northern coast of Puerto Rico, including Vieques and Culebra. A warning for small boats was issued Tuesday.

“Safety on rivers and beaches implies more than individual responsibility: it is a joint commitment to prevention and mutual care,” Morales said. “Therefore, if you observe someone putting their life at risk, guiding them [back to safety] is essential. We don’t want any more loss of life on our beaches and rivers.”

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