The Heat Is Online

Peru Hit By Worst Rains in 30 Years

Peru floods displace thousands
May 26, 1999

Terrell Johnson, (The Weather Channel)

After experiencing a month-long downpour of heavy rains, northern Peru is struggling to recover after severe floods there have displaced more than 25,000 people.

Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori visited villages in the sparsely-populated region along the Amazon River Thursday, describing what he saw as the "El Niño of the Amazon."

The month of May has brought Peru's northern region its heaviest rain in 30 years, leaving the affected areas along 300 miles of the Amazon under water, Civil Defense officials said.

Last year, Peru's coasts and mountain areas were devastated by severe floods and storms associated with the weather phenomenon known as El Niño.

However, while El Niño-enhanced rains triggered floods and mudslides that left hundreds of people dead and forced thousands more from their homes, the Peruvian Amazon jungle was largely unaffected.

"In 1998, El Niño was felt on the coast and in the highlands but here this phenomenon could be called the 'El Niño of the Amazon.' The situation is really serious," Fujimori told Reuters Thursday.

During his visit, Fujimori oversaw relief operations to deliver food and cooking stoves to jungle villagers who are living on the thatched roofs of their homes until the waters recede.

The Peruvian government has provided shelter for about 25,000 people in tents and public buildings in the area's main towns, said Juan Becerra, the region's Civil Defense chief. About 20,000 others have stayed in their flood-damaged homes.

During the month-long floods, six people have died, including four children.

Reuters Limited contributed to this report.

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