LIMA—Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski sent a message of hope on Monday to the 10 million people living in Lima and other areas suffering from the consequences of torrential floods.
“We know it is a difficult situation, but it is bring controlled and we have hopes this will all pass soon,” said the president during a visit to Peru’s National Emergency Operations Center (COEN).
Kuczynski’s optimism came despite a rising toll from the disaster that has left at least 75 dead, 30 missing, 263 injured and driven over 100,00 people from their homes. The floods and landslides have also had a staggering material cost on Peruvian infrastructure.
Estimations by COEN say that over 1,000 kilometers of roads have been destroyed and 159 bridges have collapsed.
Lima has seen massive flooding that have left houses filled with muddy water, devastated crops and fields, washed away vehicles and forced people to seek refuge on the roof of their homes.
For six days now, Lima has seen rolling restrictions or complete cuts to its supply of drinking water, forcing inhabitants to rely on tanker trucks, or to plunder public fountains and reservoirs.
The city’s La Atarjea water treatment plant had been overwhelmed by debris in the Rimac river but Kuczynski said that technicians had begun to bring the situation under control.
“We have had problems with drinking water, but this is improving rapidly. Do not give in to panic,” called the head of state.
Help has also begun to flow from Peru’s neighbours with a Colombian army plane landing in Lima on Monday, loaded with 30 tons of food rations, clean-up supplies, blankets, mosquito nets and tents. Colombia has also sent helicopters to help with operations in the northwestern region of Piura.
On Sunday, Ecuador sent a plane with food rations and other goods while Chile is readying its own convoy with 20 tons of aid, including drinking water, food and clean-up supplies.
Peru is currently facing the El Niño weather phenomenon along its coast. El Niño began weakly in December but grew in intensity since February, having risen sea surface temperatures to 29 degrees Celsius, leading to increased evaporation and torrential rains across 11 regions.
It is also feared the phenomenon may continue to blight the Peruvian coastline until April, although weather forecasts do predict temperatures will drop in the coming days.