Heavy rains have swollen the famed Iguazú waterfalls on the border between Argentina and Brazil to near decade-high water volumes this week, authorities said, as flooding engulfed one of the site's main tourist walkways.
Storms in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná sent the flow of water through the massive falls gushing to 24.2 million litres per second Monday, the second-highest volume on record, officials said.
The flow was more than 16 times the falls' normal level of 1.5 million litres per second.
"It is the highest volume of water in recent years," said Urbia, the company that manages the national park encompassing the falls, a biodiversity hotspot.
The highest water volume on record for the falls was in 2014, when officials registered a flow of 46.3 million litres per second.
Raging brown flood waters could be seen nearly swallowing the park's top attraction, a tourist walkway to the spot known as Devil's Throat, famed for its breathtaking views of the falls.
Officials said the walkway remained closed Tuesday, even as the water level started to recede, to 18.1 million litres per second.
Park authorities on the Argentine side of the fall explained that it is "necessary to restrict the Cataratas area for 48 hours because the conditions visiting the three circuits become risky," said concessionaire Iguazú Argentina S.A.
"In principle, the park will remain closed today and tomorrow. This afternoon we will have more news", confirmed Claudio Sacramento, president of the National Park, in dialogue with Télam state news agency in Argentina.
The Iguazú falls are among the largest in the world, with 275 separate waterfalls formed by the Iguazú river.