Authorities have declared a state of emergency in the province of Carhuaz in Peru’s Ancash region after part of a glacier broke off into a lake creating a massive wave that flooded nearby towns.
“The towns that are in a lot of danger are Hualcán and Pariacaca, which have been blocked off,” the president of Ancash, César Álvarez, told RPP radio station. Álvarez added that the residents are being taken to other areas for their safety.
Álvarez said he has requested a helicopter from Interior Minister Octavio Salazar in order to access areas affected by the flooding and determine the damage.
Peru’s Civil Defense is also working on transporting drinking water to Carhuaz from the capital of Ancash, Huaraz.
According to daily El Comercio, the ice block broke off the Hualcán glacier and crashed into Lake 513. The glacier reportedly measured approximately 500 meters long by 200 meters wide and created a 23 meter wave that flooded the towns of Hualcán, Pariacaca, Acopampa and Carhuaz and damaged a potable water plant.
Six people were originally reported missing, however five were later located — three unharmed and two with minor injuries, according to daily La Republica.
Peru is home to some 70 percent of Earth’s tropical glaciers. The country’s glaciers, which feed hydroelectric plants and provide drinking water to Lima, the world’s second largest desert city after Cairo, Egypt, are in the process of accelerated meltdown due to global warming.
According to Peru’s National Resources Institute, or Inrena, the Andes Mountains have lost at least 22 percent of their glacier area since 1970.