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Heavy rain swamps parts of Peru and Bolivia

Flooding and landslides rip through roads and buildings, killing at least six people in Peru.
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2013 09:53
Floods have affected about 48,000 people and left 4,000 houses damaged in Peru, according to local media [Reuters]

Parts of Peru and Bolivia are struggling to recover after torrential rain triggered floods and landslides.
 
In Peru, the southern regions of Arequipa and Ica were the worst hit.
 
In Arequipa province, 120mm of rain fell in just seven hours on February 8. This amount of rain could cause flooding in almost any part of the world, but is particularly treacherous in Arequipa which is usually very dry. This is the wetter season, but the average rain for the entire month is only 36mm.

Authorities report that nearly 50,000 people have been affected by the extreme rain, and six people are known to have died.

A state of emergency has been declared in the flood-ravaged area after homes and cars were swept away by the floodwaters and over 20km of road destroyed.

Many residents have been left with nothing as rivers burst their banks, and washed away all their possessions. The rain also left several areas of the southern Peruvian region without power and phone lines.
 
On February 11, Arequipa’s regional president, Juan Manuel Guillen, joined Peruvian Prime Minister Juan Jimenez, on a tour of flood-ravaged areas to see for themselves the extent of the damage.
 
According to local media, an estimated 55 tonnes of aid has been prepared for flood victims.

On Monday train services to the tourist destination of Machu Picchu were suspended due to flooding in the area. A spokesman for the operator, Ferrocarril Transandino, said the water had not damaged the railroad, and that the closure was only a preventive measure.

Crops ruined

Across the border in Bolivia, there has been a similar scene with flooding affecting many parts of the country, including the capital La Paz.

Crops have been destroyed and approximately 50 homes have been damaged after the Huayllani and Achumani river overflowed their banks.

Large sections in the south of La Paz have been covered in mud and debris, and bridges have been washed away by the force of the flood water. Even the heavy machinery used to sculpt river beds has been swept away from the Achumani river.

Some of the residents have been digging through the mud, to pull out furniture and other belongings, despite warnings that the buildings may completely collapse.
 
The heaviest rain fell on February 10 and 11, but the ground was already saturated after days of rain.

Farmer Eleuterio Mamani said the situation had been grim for some time,

"We have lost our crops. They have been taken away by the floods. We don't have anything to live on now. We are suffering here, working for weeks to protect ourselves from the floods," he said.

Official figures say the rains have caused 18 deaths since November, with 8,700 families being affected and approximately 6,000 hectares of crops damaged.

The wet season in Peru and Bolivia runs until the end of March, so the risk of more flooding continues for several more weeks.

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