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Death toll rises to 113 in Peru floods, mudslides

© AFP/File | A graveyard is submerged after floods hit Catacaos, a community close to the northern Peruvian city of Piura, on April, 5, 2017

LIMA (AFP) - 

The death toll from flooding and mudslides plaguing Peru since the start of the year has risen to 113 people, including five killed last weekend, officials said Tuesday.

The natural disasters, which scientists blame on a climate phenomenon called "coastal El Nino," have also left more than 178,000 people homeless, the National Center for Emergency Operations said in its latest update.

Another one million people's homes have been partly damaged, and more than 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) of roads have been destroyed.

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has said the South American country will need some $9 billion to rebuild and modernize the affected areas.

Heavy rains have been lashing Peru all year, triggering flash floods and landslides known in the indigenous Quechua language as "huaycos."

The problem has also struck Colombia, where three rivers flooded and sent a wall of mud and boulders smashing into the southern town of Mocoa on March 31, killing 316 people including more than 100 children.

Scientists say the extreme weather is being caused by a localized warming of the Pacific Ocean along the South American coast.

It causes effects similar to the "El Nino" ocean warming phenomenon that wreaks havoc on weather patterns in the Americas every few years.

© 2017 AFP