18 dead in mudslide as floods continue to wreak havoc in Peru

Dima Suchin
By Dima Suchin
March 14, 2017World News

A bus travelling through a mudslide in the northeastern Peruvian region of Ancash, located 537 km (333 miles) to the north-east of Lima, fell in a ravine, resulting in the death of 18, including five children. The tragedy took place amid ongoing struggles in Peru to survive heavy rains and flash floods that are following the Andean country’s worst drought in decades.

Striking images also caught one bus swerving past a landslide next to a mountainside close to Lima over the weekend.

It took rescuers almost 20 hours to recover the bodies from the Ancash crash due poor accessibility after the bus plunged 500 metres (1,640 feet) down a ravine. Poor visibility due to the ongoing rains also hampered rescue efforts.

In Piura province, located 858 kms (533 miles) to the northeast of Lima, more than 35,000 were displaced by floods due to heavy rainfall.

Deployments have included more than 3,000 brigade members of the Armed Forces and the ministries of Health, Housing and Transportation. According to local media reports, more than 700 tons of humanitarian aid were distributed in various areas of Piura.

Displaced residents are desperate.

“Solve the problem as soon as possible because all of us will drown any day now. My husband is an old man, I’m an elderly woman. Please do something,” said flood victim, Isabel Manrique.

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said on Sunday (March 12) during a visit to Piura that his government would work tirelessly to help the flood victims in the area.

“Piura has 3,000 displaced families. More or less, at least 13,000 people. We still don’t know what the cost of reconstruction will be. We will probably know by Tuesday,” Kuczynski said.

The Piura River burst its banks, flooding roads and blocking traffic. The overflowing river also threatens infrastructure like the city’s main bridges, local media reported.

In February, the government decreed a state of emergency for 60 days in three regions where 4,900 thousand homes collapsed, according to local media reports.

Rivers bursting their banks have also clogged water treatment plants with rocks and debris, forcing authorities to restrict water use in the capital Lima and Peru’s second-biggest city, Arequipa.

The precipitation has been fuelled by unusually warm temperatures in the Pacific that would indicate a strong El Nino if they hold, meteorologists have said.

The floods have already killed 48 people and injured 144 across 24 regions in Peru and displaced almost 550,000 people—and it could get worse, with more rain predicted.

About half a million people in Peru live in floodplains, according to a recent report by state water agency ANA.


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