Torrential rains have returned to Bolivia and much of the country is struggling to cope with the deluge.

According to government officials, at least 15 people have died so far this rainy season and more than 10,000 homes have been damaged.

The heavy downpours have been going on for many weeks now.

The floodwaters are waste deep in places and rescue services have been using dinghies to help trapped residents out of their homes.

Seven people died in the central region of Cochambamba, which hosts Bolivia’s fourth largest city. They have already had 138mm of rain here this month. The January average is 96mm.

Oscar Cabrera, the vice minister for civil defence, explained "the situation is getting more complicated with the growth of the rivers".

Areas to the north of La Paz have been "seriously affected" and risk further property damage.

The city of Reyes, which is located 260km to the north of the capital, recorded 133mm of rain in the 24 hours into Wednesday morning. That amounts to just over half the January average of 256mm.

The 2014 rainy season was the worst in living memory, with 60 dead and 60,000 families affected.

Like this year, there were also huge losses in the agricultural sector.

However, Cabrera said there have been improvements in the country’s ability to cope with such emergencies.

Source: Agencies