Peru: 50 dead and 1,303 houses destroyed by rains

Peru released on Tuesday an assessment of the effects of the intense rainy season and indicated that 50 Peruvians have died and there are more than 20,000 homes affected since the beginning of the year on the north Pacific coast and in the capital.

Defense Minister Jorge Chávez added at a press conference that another 48 people were injured and five more are still missing. The rains —which were already present in January, but have intensified since the end of February due to the presence of Cyclone Yaku— have caused more than 7,200 victims.

The authorities also calculate that there are 1,303 houses destroyed and 1,578 uninhabitable houses. On Tuesday, more than 500 trucks full of chickens, meat, fruits and vegetables were stranded in front of a key bridge that was destroyed over the weekend by rains in the Ancash region. Other cities in northern Peru were still flooded and residents rescued what they could by entering their muddy houses.

According to the National Meteorology and Hydrology Service of Peru, the overflows and floods are driven by Cyclone Yaku, an unusual phenomenon present off the coasts of Peru and Ecuador.

Almost all those affected are poor people, according to the authorities. In the case of Lima, the only river that began to devour houses built on its banks was the Chillón, located in the northern zone, and one of the three that crosses from the Andes to the Pacific to the Peruvian capital.

In Lima, one of those affected was Avelina Pagueña, a 31-year-old mother of two, who fought against the Chillón River to rescue her bed, mattress and other belongings that she bought with her occasional job as a recycler of obsolete objects. The river swept away the day before with her wooden house and that of 30 other families settled along the riverbank, in an area where there is no drinking water or drainage.

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Those affected in the capital loaded their refrigerators, gas stoves or beds onto carts and placed them in an area full of bushes several meters from the riverbank. Others had no wagons and carried their belongings on their backs, panting and silent. Many children participated in the forced move, several of school age who are enrolled in public schools that have postponed the start of classes for a week due to the rains.

Pagueña told The Associated Press that he came to live by the river in 2020 after the pandemic began and after the government at that time decreed a forced confinement of more than 100 days to prevent the spread of the virus, which decimated the weak economy. of millions who could not work in a country where 73% work informally.

“We didn’t have the means to pay the rent, which was already expensive for us, that’s why we came here,” said the woman, looking at the river whose turbulent waters made a loud sound. And then, with a bitter smile, she added: “Life is hard… Others can say, ‘that’s what they get for going there, they knew it was impossible to live there,’ but no one knows the need for others.”

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