LIMA, PERU - Peru asked the United States for more aid Wednesday to confront the intense rains and flooding that have buried entire villages in mud, displaced thousands from their homes and left 97 dead.
The Andean nation is struggling to recover from what officials describe as the worst environmental disaster to strike in nearly two decades and Defense Minister Jorge Nieto said Peru is especially in need of equipment like motor pumps to drain areas still inundated in water.
Nations from throughout Latin America have sent airplanes filled with food and water in recent weeks. The United States announced Friday it was donating $525,000 and pledged to redirect helicopters typically working on coca eradication in the Amazon toward the rescue effort.
On Monday, China, Peru's largest trading partner, announced it was donating $1.5 million to aid in the recovery.
The unusual rains are being caused by a warming of Pacific Ocean waters off Peru's coast that climatologists are calling a "coastal El Nino." Floods and mudslides have damaged or destroyed nearly 200,000 homes so far this year, leaving some residents stranded on rooftops awaiting rescue.
Meteorologists are expecting at least several more weeks of rain.
The Peruvian government has mobilized thousands of soldiers to rescue stranded residents and is spending more than $1 million a day on gas alone for trucks helping repair the estimated 5 percent of national roadways that have been damaged.