Hundreds die from extreme cold in remote mountain villages also struggling with severe poverty
Peru has declared a state of emergency after hundreds of children died from freezing conditions that have seen temperatures across much of the South American country plummet to a 50-year low. In 16 of Peru’s 25 regions, temperatures have fallen below -24C.
Reports from the country say 409 people, most of them children, have already died from the cold, with temperatures predicted to fall further in coming weeks.
Worst hit are Peru’s poorest and most isolated communities, which are already living on the edge of survival in remote Andean mountain villages more than 3,000 metres above sea level.
Although those living at such high-altitude would expect temperatures to drop below zero at this time of year, NGOs and government officials say many are unable to withstand the extreme cold which they are now experiencing.
“Over the past three or four years we have seen temperatures during the winter months get lower, and people are unable to survive this,” said Silvia Noble, from Plan Peru, an NGO. “This cold weather is now extending into areas that never saw these low temperatures before and children and elderly people are especially at risk as they are not physically strong enough to last month after month of sub-zero conditions.”