Heavy rainfall in Peru slammed infrastructure, losses seen at $323 mln

LIMA, March 22 (Reuters) - The heavy rains that recently struck Peru have racked up at least $323 million in infrastructure damage, a senior minister said on Wednesday, as residents of hard-hit areas turn their focus on repairing water-logged homes and businesses.

The rainfall that followed powerful cyclone Yaku generated flooding across populated areas, destroying hundreds of homes, schools and roads, mainly along the central and northern coast of the Andean country.

In the aftermath of the flooding, authorities relocated thousands of affected people, and began the work of rebuilding damaged roadways and other infrastructure.

Financial aid for small businesses hit by the storm has also been prioritized, Economy Minister Alex Contreras told reporters in the capital Lima after leaving the national palace.

Contreras stressed the importance of mobilizing resources as soon as possible since "El Nino" weather conditions could prolong Peru's rainy season.

The damage unleashed by Cyclone Yaku marks the latest crisis to hit Peru, where tense and sometimes violent anti-government protests have rocked the country since Congress ousted former President Pedro Castillo in December.

Earlier this month, the government of his successor, Dina Boluarte, declared a state of emergency covering 400 districts in the country to alleviate the effects of the intense rains.

At least 60 people have died in Peru since the start of the rainy season late last year, according to civil defense institute INDECI.

Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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