Flash floods hit Peru, stranding thousands

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 18 2017 10:14 AM

Residents of the Huachipa populous district, east of Lima, are helped on March 17, 2017, by police and fire fighter rescue teams to cross over flash floods hitting their neighbourhood and isolating its residents. Cris Bouroncle, AFP

LIMA, Peru - Torrential rains triggered flash floods in the Peruvian capital Lima, stranding thousands of people Friday and forcing rescuers to find ways to evacuate them across roads turned to raging rivers.

After weeks of heavy rain, some residents on the outskirts of the capital of 10 million people awoke Friday to the realization their bedrooms were filling with water.

Others found themselves cut off by mudslides that blocked portions of the main highway linking Lima to the center of the country.

In one dramatic scene, rescuers used zip lines to help residents of Lima's Huachipa neighborhood escape over the torrid river of brown water that was once their street, as it swallowed up cars and trucks.

Three people were killed in a flood in the La Libertad region in northern Peru, bringing the number of deaths in natural disasters this year to 65.

The floods have been triggered by El Nino, a warming of surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean that wreaks havoc on weather patterns every few years.

This year it has hit Peru particularly hard.

"It's a difficult situation, there's no doubt about it. But we have the resources" to deal with it, said President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski.

The government announced it would release 2.5 billion soles ($760 million) in emergency funds to rebuild affected areas.

© Agence France-Presse