Rescue crews in Peru on Friday scrambled to save hundreds of people stranded by the country’s deadliest flooding in decades, with landslides and overflowing rivers destroying thousands of homes across the Andean nation.
At least 67 people have died and more than 70,000 have been left homeless as El Nino rains unleashed more than 10 times as much rainfall as normal.
“We are confronting a serious climatic problem,” President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said in a statement broadcast live Friday afternoon. “There hasn’t been an incident of this strength along the coast of Peru since 1998.”
A state of emergency has been declared in about half of the country, especially in the north.
In the capital, Lima, drinking water was suspended, triggering a shortage of bottled water at some markets.
Many of those impacted are poor who built homes near rivers or on flood plains.
The heavy rains are caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon when the surface water of the Pacific Ocean warms. Meteorologists expect the rains to continue for another month.
In 1998, an El Nino event left hundreds dead and thousands more homeless.
cw/sms (AP, dpa, Reuters)