VATICAN CITY (REUTERS) - Pope Francis assured the people of Peru of his closeness to them on Sunday and prayed for the victims of the recent flooding.
A sudden and abnormal warming of Pacific waters off Peru unleashed the deadliest downpours in decades, with landslides and raging rivers sweeping away people, clogging highways and destroying crops.
"Dear Brothers and Sisters, I want to assure my closeness to the dear people of Peru, hit hard by devastating floods," said Francis.
At least 62 people have died and more than 70,000 have become homeless as Peru's rainy season has delivered 10 times as much rainfall than usual, authorities said.
"I pray for the victims and for those who are committed to providing relief operations," said the Pope.
About half of Peru has been declared in emergency to expedite resources to the hardest hit areas, mostly in the north where rainfall has broken records in several districts.
Peru is bracing itself for another month of flooding.