A gigantic natural dam, formed by a landslip in late April, was breached last week (6 June), and the resulting floodwaters have left over twenty villages devastated, and thousands homeless in the Huaccoto region of central Peru.
HUACCOTO, CENTRAL PERU (JUNE 7-9, 1974) (REUTERS)
AV Village by empty river bed.
AV River bed and deserted villages.
GV PAN River running into area blocked by land-slide PAN ALONg channels dug through silt.
GV ZOOM OUT from landslide and dammed up water to muddy area.
GV Helicopter arrives with dynamite.
CU PAN Dynamite to engineers talking.
TV Engineers digging holes for dynamite. (2 shots)
SV PAN From engineers.
GV Evacuated villagers on mountain side. (4 shots)
GTV Dynamite explosion.
GTV ZOOM OUT FROM second larger explosion on dam.
GTV Water pouring through.
GTV PAN River flowing 25 hours later. (2 shots)
GV PAN From woman carrying child on hillside to river in spate.
SVs Damaged buildings. (4 shots)
Initials VS 22.39 VS 22.59
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Background: A gigantic natural dam, formed by a landslip in late April, was breached last week (6 June), and the resulting floodwaters have left over twenty villages devastated, and thousands homeless in the Huaccoto region of central Peru.
A catastrophe of this king had been almost inevitable since 25 April, when two mountain tops crashed down, burying hundreds of people and blocking the fast-flowing Mantaro River.
Water built up rapidly behind the natural dam. Until, by Sunday, an artificial lake stretched back almost to the Tablachaca Hydro-Electric installations 20 miles (30 klms) up river. Villages were evacuated along the now dried up river bed below the dam. The villagers were very unwilling to leave the area as they were about to reap what looked like an exceptional harvest. They climbed into the hills for the night, but returned to the fields by day.
For some days Peruvian engineers took steps to release the water as slowly s possible. Then mining engineers and experts arrived from Europe, Japan and the United States. When the water reached a critical level on 6 June, the dam was breached by dynamite explosions in the hope that its rate of escape could be controlled. At first, the flow of water was slow. But by Sunday night it was pouring through so fast that there were 20 foot waves in the lower channel.
Evacuated villages along the river were washed away and large areas of cultivated land were devastated.
The flood damage is estimated at 2.5 million pounds sterling (6 million U.S. dollars). There is also the danger of typhoid form hundreds of human and animal corpses rotting in the mud of the artificial lake.