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Snow falls in Santiago

A rare coating of wintry weather delights Chileans.

A rare dusting of snow has fallen in Chile's capital, Santiago.

The icy weather is unusual in the Chilean capital, where the average maximum temperature in the winter month of June is 16 degrees Celsius. In fact, just three days earlier the temperature had soared to a balmy 21C.

Over the past few days, temperatures dropped dramatically and on Monday, workers emerged from their offices to take pictures and play in the snow.

Even President Sebastian Pinera found himself ducking a snowball, thrown by his wife, first lady Cecilia Morel.

Other South American countries have also been gripped by a cold snap.

In Bolivia, the temperature has dropped as low as minus 14C and farmers of alpacas and llamas have reported the death of some of their herd.

In Peru, the snow has covered vast areas, with some places reporting that as much as 40 centimetres had accumulated.

The cold snap is expected to spread into Argentina over the next few days, with Buenos Aires expecting the temperature overnight to drop to just 3C.

Although rare, snow is not unheard of in Santiago. Last year, the city was hit by the worst snowstorm in almost 50 years.

Most of the city was covered by only 5cm of snow, but some parts of the region were left floundering under a thick blanket 40cm deep.

At least one person was killed and injured several others. It also left more than a quarter of a million people without power.

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