March 29 (UPI) -- At least four people died in Peru's town of Catacaos after the Piura river overflowed its banks and caused widespread flooding, officials said.
Peru's defense minister, Jorge Nieto, said on Wednesday that most people affected by flooding in the Piura region have been evacuated and that work is now centered on organizing proper shelter for people. Nieto said officials are working to shelter 2,000 people, though the number of people affected is likely much higher.
Nieto said some people may reject being housed in shelters out of fear their homes may be targeted by thieves.
"We have virtually completed the evacuation. People who have not been evacuated are the ones who do not want to leave," Nieto said. "As the water goes down, they say that the situation will normalize and therefore they want to take care of their things. We will respect that will."
Nieto said heavy rains -- though not as strong as ones seen recently that caused the river to overflow -- are forecast to fall in the Piura Region, including in Piura city, which is about two miles north-northeast of Catacaos.
Peru's National Institute of Civil Defense reported on Tuesday that at least 97 people have been killed and 348 injured and that another 124,161 people have been left homeless. In addition, 20 people are missing, 14,787 homes have collapsed and 15,065 homes have been left uninhabitable since the start of seasonal rains in December, which have destroyed 227 bridges.
Peru has received assistance from different countries as it deals with the heavy rains and flooding, including from Mexico, Paraguay, China, Venezuela, Panama, Japan, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia.
Peru's ministry of health has urged residents to take necessary precautions to avoid an outbreak of dengue fever, which is transmitted by mosquitoes.
Peru's government released a video showing the flooding caused by the Piura river overflow, in which Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski is seen traveling to the affected area.