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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 June 2007, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Cold snap prompts Peru emergency
By Dan Collyns
BBC News, Lima

An alpaca farm in the Andes, Peru
Andean people and their animals are used to harsh conditions
The Peruvian government has declared a state of emergency in several Andean regions hit by unusually cold weather.

More than 200 people, about 50 of them children, have died in recent weeks.

The people, mostly farmers living at high altitude in the Andes mountains, mainly died from pneumonia caused by sub-zero temperatures.

Scores of people die every year from the cold in Peru but farmers in the Andes say the weather is now more extreme and unpredictable.

The people and their animals living in the upper reaches of the Peruvian Andes are exposed to the harshest extremes of heat and cold.

For the millions who live at 3,000m above sea level, or higher, the temperature frequently drops below zero at night.

But this autumn, the weather in much of the Andes has been colder than usual.

As well as the 200 who have died, thousands of people are suffering from pneumonia and other respiratory infections.


As ever the victims are the most vulnerable - children and the elderly. To make matters worse, the coldest areas are also the poorest and alarming levels of malnutrition have meant hospitals are packed with mothers and their sick children.

In the coastal capital, Lima, and elsewhere people are making donations.

The Peruvian health ministry is planning to take 16 tons of donated clothing to communities living in the six regions in Peru's eastern and southern Andes, all of which have been put under a state of emergency.

Scientists say the unseasonable droughts, heavy rains and frosts are due to climate change.

Meanwhile, weather experts are forecasting that temperatures will plummet even further with the South American winter soon to begin in earnest.

Children die in Peruvian freeze
25 Jul 04 |  Americas
Peru hit by major workers' strike
15 Jul 04 |  Americas
Andes drought leaves Lima thirsty
09 May 04 |  Americas
Timeline: Peru
30 Jun 04 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Peru
30 Jun 04 |  Country profiles

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