Thousands of people have gathered in the Chilean region of La Araucania to witness a solar eclipse, rejoicing in the rare experience despite limited visibility because of cloudy skies.
Skies were clear in northern Patagonia in Argentina, where people also watched the moon briefly block out the sun and plunge daytime into darkness.
Many people wore masks to curb the spread of COVID-19, though they crowded together in some places in Pucon and in other areas of La Araucania, 700 kilometres south of Santiago, the Chilean capital.
“It was worth the two minutes,” said witness Diego Fuentes, who traveled south with his family to see the eclipse.
“I liked it a lot and it was good that there were clouds because we could see it a little without glasses,” said Catalina Morales, a girl who watched with her father, Cristian Morales.
He described it as “spectacular, a unique experience.”
Thousands jumped and shouted happily in the drizzle when the sun was completely covered by the moon and then silence descended for a few moments.
People again screamed and whooped excitedly when the sun appeared again.
During the brief period of darkness, only the lights of mobile phones were visible.
About 500,000 people of the Mapuche ethnic group live in La Araucania and traditionally believe the eclipse signals the momentary death of the sun after a fight with the moon and leads to negative fallout.
One community member and head of an Indigenous foundation that promotes development, Diego Ancalao, noted a total solar eclipse in July 2019 was followed by civil unrest in Chile and the coronavirus pandemic.
Experts said the eclipse was partly visible in several other Latin American countries, parts of Africa and the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
The next total solar eclipse in Chile is not expected for 28 years. Another is expected to be visible in Antarctica by the end of 2021.