Nations in the west-central region of South America have been enduring their worst winter in 30 years. Frigid temperatures and extreme snowstorms have brought everyday life to a standstill, with thousands of people trapped in the brutal conditions. Basic services have been interrupted, and in Peru - the hardest hit of the five affected countries - a 20 day state-of-emergency has been declared.
Thus far this season at least two dozen people have perished due to weather conditions in the region, along with tens of thousands of llamas, alpacas, and cattle. The agricultural losses threaten to devastate food supplies for months to come, and many are anxious that a ripple effect will upend the already fragile economy on the continent.
Efforts to bring relief to the 35,000-plus citizens in the disaster zone have been hampered by the adverse conditions, with a majority of said-citizens being completely cut-off from services needed for day-to-day living. Concern about additional deaths and rampant illness is driving officials to use a variety of methods (including airlifts) to deliver critical food-stocks and medicines into the overwhelmed areas; such necessities are rapidly being depleted, however, which is exacerbating the potential crisis.