MAR 20, 2017 05:55 PM PDT

Peru faces extreme flooding, avalanches, and mudslides

Just weeks ago Peruvians were begging for rain, as much of the country was experiencing an intense drought. But as often happens with droughts, when the rains finally came, the earth was so dry it could not absorb the water well. That mixed with the extreme precipitation that the country has received over the last few days has left 75 Peruvians dead. Moreover, following Prime Minister Fernando Zavala, to date 72,115 Peruvians have lost everything and 567,551 have suffered less serious damages.

Agents of the Peruvian National Police rescue people trapped in buildings due to the flooding of the Rimac and Huaycoloro rivers, in Lima, Peru, 17 March 2017. Photo: SBS

The rainy season has delivered 10 times more rainfall than usual and comes as a result of the El Nino effect; the country is predicted to receive even more precipitation in the coming days. The torrential rains have caused avalanches, mudslides and extensive flash flooding; a state of emergency has been declared in more than 800 cities.

"There will be heavy rains in northern regions and in central Lima over the coming days, so the alert situation remains in place," Zavala said Saturday.

El Nino refers to the periodic warming of Pacific Ocean waters, which charges clouds with tremendous loads of water that subsequently fall on coastal areas, initiating avalanches from steep hillsides and causing rivers to overflow. There has been an unusual warming of sea surface temperatures off Peru’s northern coast by five to six degrees, reaching up to 29 degrees Centigrade (84 degrees Fahrenheit.) This is expected to continue through April.

One of the cities that is in a state of emergency is Huarmey, 300 kilometers (180 miles) north of Lima. Som parts of the city are currently under as much as a meter (3.3 feet) of water. The city's mayor, Miguel Sotelo, has demanded help from the president to provide heavy equipment to help divert the course of the river that has been flooding Huarmey: "My village is inundated," he said. "Three days and we're still underwater. There is no light or food in my village."

There are huge efforts of humanitarian aid being mobilized in the area to bring food and water to those affected, and the military has deployed troops to help keep public safety. The health ministry has been fumigating pools of water in the streets to kill mosquitoes that carry diseases like dengue, while the government is working to repair three bridges, in Huarmey and nearby Casma, that had collapsed. Fixing such infrastructure is imperative in order to reach areas in the north of the country that are cut off. "This is the road that links the north of Peru to Lima," said Viru Mayor Ney Gamez. "This is a cry for help."

The rains are taking a toll on infrastructure. Photo: AP 

Sources: SBS, DW, ITV

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 27, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 27, 2018
Social Spiders Lose Their Minds After Meeting This Parasitoid Wasp
A curious team of researchers from the University of British Columbia was purportedly studying Anelosimus eximius spider nests in Ecuador in an effort to l...
DEC 05, 2018
Earth & The Environment
DEC 05, 2018
8,000 barrels of crude spills into Peru's Amazon
The media is calling it an “environmental catastrophe.” Last week roughly 8,000 barrels of crude oil, equivalent to 336,000 gallons, was releas...
DEC 17, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 17, 2018
New Aquatic Salamander Species Described in New Study
A new aquatic salamander species has been discovered, and researchers are almost entirely sure it matches the description of a previously-unknown animal th...
DEC 31, 2018
Earth & The Environment
DEC 31, 2018
Indonesian volcanic eruption triggers deadly tsunami
The sudden collapse of Indonesian volcano Anak Krakatau last week triggered a frightening tsunami in the Sunda Strait. Ultimately more than 420 people have...
JAN 06, 2019
Earth & The Environment
JAN 06, 2019
What the government shutdown has meant for national parks
National parks are suffering greatly due to the recent government shutdown, which began on December 22 as a result of disagreement between President Trump ...
FEB 04, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
FEB 04, 2019
A Rapid New Method to Help Modern Crops Resist Disease
Scientists can now find genes in wild plants that can make modern crops more resistant to disease, without impacting yield or using pesticides....
Loading Comments...