After several weeks of heavy rains, Lima daily Peru21 has tallied the death and damage from flooding that stretches from north to south in the Latin American nation. "Terrible Toll" is the front-page headline in its Wednesday edition. The numbers include 78 dead, more than 140,000 residences damaged, and nearly 650,000 people affected since the ongoing, El Niño-driven disaster began several weeks ago.
Another 20 people are missing, according to Peru's National Institute of Civil Defense. Flooding and landslides have also caused major infrastructure damage, destroying nearly 2,150 kilometers of roadways and 175 bridges. El Comercioreports that the government is putting special emphasis on reopening blocked stretches of the Pan-American Highway, the network of roads running from Alaska all the way down to southern Chile, and traverses Peru from north to south.
The flooding has affected areas throughout the country, particularly along the northern coast. Hardest hit is the northwestern Piura Region, where six people have been killed and more than 19,000 left homeless, according to Perú21.
Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski visited Piura on Tuesday, promising help for the many victims. "We're trying to reach each family," he said. "We're working on this every second of every day."
Heavier-than-normal rains have swept across the country for the past several months, with flooding intensifying in recent weeks. Dimitri Gutiérrez, director of Peru's Institute of Oceanography and Climate Change, told Perú21 that the northern part of the country, from Tumbes to La Libertad, should expect rains and landslides to continue for the next two or three weeks.