Peru

Heavy rains ruin crops, cattle, kill six in Peru

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LIMA, Peru, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Thousands were forced from their homes, crops and cattle were destroyed, and six people were killed as torrential rains, brought on by weather pattern El Niño, hammered southern Peru, officials said on Monday.
"Some 74,130 acres (30,000 hectares) of crops have been affected and some 7,000 head of cattle have been lost due to flooding ... The rain will continue (this week) and that is why we have declared a state of emergency in Puno and Madre de Dios,'' Prime Minister Luis Solari told reporters.

He said almost 5,000 families had been forced from their homes, and civil defense authorities said two children were among the six people killed.

"We are trying to make preparations for more rains that threaten farmers, and could force more people from their homes and ruin more crops,'' a civil defense official told Reuters.

The government of President Alejandro Toledo has been bracing itself for El Nino, a periodic weather phenomenon that can cause devastating droughts and floods worldwide.

A particularly strong El Nino in 1997-98 killed 200 people and caused some $3.5 billion in damage in Peru.

Reut19:18 01-27-03

Copyright (c) 2003 Reuters
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 01/27/2003 19:18:44

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