Death toll rises to 113 in Peru floods and mudslides

Children playing outside their home a month after torrential rains caused flooding and widespread destruction in Carapongo, Lima, Peru. PHOTO: REUTERS

LIMA (AFP) - The death toll from flooding and mudslides plaguing Peru since the start of the year has risen to 113 people, including five killed last weekend, officials said on Tuesday (April 18).

The natural disasters, which scientists blame on a climate phenomenon called "coastal El Nino," have also left more than 178,000 people homeless, the National Center for Emergency Operations said in its latest update.

Another one million people's homes have been partly damaged, and more than 2,500 kilometres of roads have been destroyed.

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has said the South American country will need some US$9 billion (S$12.5 billion) to rebuild and modernise the affected areas.

Heavy rains have been lashing Peru all year, triggering flash floods and landslides known in the indigenous Quechua language as "huaycos."

The problem has also struck Colombia, where three rivers flooded and sent a wall of mud and boulders smashing into the southern town of Mocoa on March 31, killing 323 people, including more than 100 children, according to a new toll Tuesday.

Scientists say the extreme weather is being caused by a localized warming of the Pacific Ocean along the South American coast.

It causes effects similar to the "El Nino" ocean warming phenomenon that wreaks havoc on weather patterns in the Americas every few years.

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