For several days now, the citizens of the northern coast of Peru have woken up to waist-deep murky waters. There are not a few public schools that have been disabled to start the school year nor are the families that from the roofs of their houses implore to be rescued. The phenomenon is a cyclone and has a name: Yaku, which in Quechua means water. Specialists have ruled out that it could become a hurricane, but it is still causing serious damage. There are already five deaths in the coastal region of Piura and another two in Lambayeque. There is still no exact picture regarding those affected at the national level, but only in Piura there would be more than 3,500, according to the Regional Emergency Operations Center (COER). In addition, the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Regional Government was flooded.
Last Thursday, in Chiclayo, Lambayeque, a mother and her seven-year-old son were electrocuted when they touched a downed Internet cable while walking in the torrential rain. In Piura, two brothers aged 17 and 18 drowned in the Huancabamba River; a fisherman lost his life when his boat capsized in the bay of Paita; a 50-year-old woman was swept away by the force of the waters while trying to cross a ravine to see the state of her cattle; and a 51-year-old man was crushed by an adobe wall.
Hania Pérez de Cuéllar, Minister of Housing, Construction and Sanitation, blamed the authorities of the past. “This is the responsibility of previous governments that did not do a correct job of prevention. The work is not done at the same moment that the phenomena appear ”, she questioned. Although landslides and floods occur every summer, since 1983 a cyclone has not devastated the Peruvian coasts. It was that same year that the El Niño phenomenon took place, which caused the death of 512 people, 8,500 indirect deaths due to illnesses and 1,304 injuries. The fears are reasonable. The probability that an event of such magnitude will be triggered is for now under the degree of “surveillance”. Next week the Multisectoral Commission for the National Study of the El Niño Phenomenon (Enfen) will meet to assess whether the situation warrants moving to the “alert” level.
The Executive has declared a state of emergency in 233 districts located in the regions of Tumbes, Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Áncash, Cajamarca and Lima. In the capital, the districts under supervision are Chaclacayo, Comas, San Martín de Porres, Carabayllo and Ate. The objective is to expedite exceptional measures to reduce risks and repair the years in the next 60 days.
“Yaku is descending and that will increase the rains in Lima. The flow of the Rímac River will rise,” Defense Minister Jorge Chávez declared this Friday, and he was not wrong. In Lima, the city where it never rains, the sky gave way to moderate precipitation since late afternoon. According to Senamhi, Cyclone Yaku would remain until this Sunday, but the rains will continue at least until the fortnight of March.
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