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  • Flooded streets in southern Peru. Feb. 18, 2019.

    Flooded streets in southern Peru. Feb. 18, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 February 2019
Opinion

Major rains in Peru have caused floods and landslides leaving nearly 40 dead. This 'El Niño' is affecting not only Peru but Bolivia and Chile.  

Major floods and landslides this month have left at least 39 people dead in Peru with the southern region’s arid landscape bearing the brunt of the rains. Around 8,299, have been affected by the torrential rains, according to the National Institute of Civil Defense (Indeci).

RELATED: 
Bolivia: 50 Municipalities in 'Emergency State' Due to El Niño

Within the past week bridges, roads, and other infrastructure have been destroyed or washed out in landslides, including the Montalvo bridge in the Moquegua region that limited transit between the southern cities of Arequipa and Tacna. President Martin Vizcarra said an alternative route was being established for traffic and that the major bridge was being repaired. Another 18 bridges have also been destroyed and seven health clinics in the area have been rendered unusable.

As many as 15 of the rain’s victims were killed when the wall of a hotel collapsed in late January at a wedding in Abancay, Peru.

Heavy rains in the Peruvian highlands have caused the loss of 191.5 hectares of crops.

The merchants of the Aguas Verdes market, a town in the region of Tumbes, near the border with Ecuador, were forced to collect their damaged goods after the rains caused the overflow of a nearby irrigation channel.

The National Emergency Operations Center (COEN) also reported that the heavy rains have also been taking place in Peru’s northern coastal regions with Tumbes near the border with Ecuador. Tumbes is receiving averaging 58.4 mm or rain per day, followed by Paruro near Cusco getting 32 millimeters.

Video of a Tumbes market by Sputnik from Feb. 19 shows consumers wading through knee-high water in order to buy their produce.

The head of Peru's Council of Ministers Cesar Villanueva said on Monday that the country is still unprepared for another El Niño phenomenon like those Peru experienced between December 2016 and March 2017 that left 162 people dead and 500 wounded.

"At the moment, Peru is still not ready (for an El Niño). ... It would be very pretentious to say that the country is ready for this force of nature," Villanueva said in an interview with local news.

Weather and climate change expert Javier Núñez Andrade told Peru media Sunday that the torrential and non-stop rains in the country were due to the so-called "Modoki El Niño." The Modoki can be more dangerous than a regular ‘El Niño’ because it is “hotter, has several jet streams, atmospheric temperatures equal to or higher than the sea. … and is the engine of climate change," Núñez Andrade said.

The effects of the Modoki El Niño are also being felt in northern Chile where President Sebastian Piñera declared a state of emergency in certain areas, and in Bolivia where over 50 municipalities have been declared in state of emergency or disaster areas by the federal government.

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