5 Sep 2010

Amazon river levels low

7:34 am on 5 September 2010

The Amazon river is at its lowest level in 40 years in north-eastern Peru, causing severe economic disruption in a region where it is the main transport route.

At least six large boats are stranded near the port city of Iquitos.

Peru's national meteorological office said the low water level is the result of a prolonged spell of dry weather.

The BBC reports the river is expected to fall further before the rainy season begins next month.

Iquitos and other towns in Peru's rainforest region have no road links to the rest of the country, and depend on the Amazon and its tributaries for transport.

Food and other supplies are now being brought in by smaller boats that can navigate the shallow channels.

But the BBC reports these journeys take up to twice as long and the cost is much higher.

Officials said river level in Iquitos have fallen to 106 metres above sea level, 50cm lower than the previous record set in 2005.

Iquitos, the biggest city in the Peruvian Amazon, is more than 3000km from the mouth of the river in Brazil.

The Amazon is the world's second-longest river, after the Nile.