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Authorities in Peru have declared that the intense rains, overflowing rivers, mudslides and flooding being experienced in the country are the worst seen in two decades, with the death toll since the beginning of the year having hit 72.
The highly unusual rains follow a series of storms that have struck hard along Peru’s northern coast, with voracious waters inundating hospitals and leaving some small villages isolated.
The storms are being caused by a warming of the surface waters in the Pacific Ocean and are expected to continue for another two weeks, with the disaster affecting more than half the nation.
Peru’s government said that 374 people were killed in 1998 during a similar period of massive rains and flooding blamed on the El Nino climate pattern.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Fernando Zavala updated the number of dead from the latest flooding to 72.