Peru death toll rises to 20 after floods in south


The flooding has heavily damaged southern regions

The number of people killed in heavy flooding over the past several days in southern Peru has risen to 20, local officials say.

They say that at least five more people are missing and almost 40,000 others have been affected.

On Friday, officials airlifted the last of nearly 4,000 tourists stranded near the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu.

The tourists became trapped after floods and landslides destroyed road and rail links to the famous site.

'Terrified'

Peru's Cuzco region in the Andes is the worst-hit.

Lucre - a village situated next to a river with the same name - was all but washed away earlier this week, the BBC's Dan Collyns reports from the region.

"The waters hit our home at 2330 at night when we were all asleep," local resident Berta Pantoja says.

"Someone heard the noise and before we could even get out of our beds the water was flowing over them. Terrified, all seven of us ran in different directions trying to escape," she adds.

Many local residents are now trying to salvage what they can from their destroyed houses.

After the impressive airlift from Machu Picchu, bringing aid to hundreds of villages spread over a wide area will pose a far greater challenge, our correspondent says.

Other regions such as Puno, Ayacucho and Huancavelica were also hit hard by the torrential rains.

Officials say the floods are the worst to hit the country in years.