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Melting glacier triggers flooding, tsunami in Peru

April 13, 2010 — A melting glacier in Peruvian Andes has triggered a tsunami and deadly flooding in several villages.

A huge glacier broke off and plunged into a lake in Peru last Sunday, causing a 23-metre high tsunami wave that swept away at least three people.

Flooding was reported as far as 20 kilometres away from the ice block, which measured 500 by 200 metres. A water processing plant that serving 60,000 local residents was destroyed. Authorities evacuated mountain valleys, fearing more breakages.

Local officials say this is one of the most concrete signs yet that glaciers are disappearing in Peru, home to 70 per cent of the world's tropical ice fields. Scientists say warmer temperatures will cause them to melt away altogether within 20 years.

“The origin of this phenomenon was due to the combination of two factors: First, global warming which affects all glaciers in the range, including this one. Furthermore, the rainy season -- very heavy rains that are occurring in this area,” said Patricio Vaderrama, an expert on glaciers at Peru's Institue of Mine Engineers.

Many of those who witnessed the tsunami and flooding were extremely frightened.

“We were scared and we escaped up the hill, left behind our businesses and everything. We were so scared,” said one victim.

Another victim describes how much the mud destroyed his home. “There were five or six rooms here, and a big house up the back and everything has been taken away by the mud.”

For the latest details on this story and other international stories making headlines, make sure you tune into The Weather Network on TV. Our newscast comes up at :12 and :42 minutes past every hour.

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