Guatemalan authorities have blamed blamed El Ni�o for the nation's worst drought in 30 years, which has left almost 500 people dead from hunger since the start of the year. Around 36,000 hectares of corn and bean crops were lost, officials said. The occasional seasonal warming of central and eastern Pacific waters upsets normal weather patterns across the globe and occurs on average every two to five years. Typically lasting around 12 months, El Ni�o reappeared once again in June. Further south, Ecuador saw its worst drought in 40 years, officials reported. The Government declared a 60-day state of emergency in the hydro-electric sector after water levels sank in power station reservoirs. Ice cream sellers in the capital Quito were among those hit as their produce melted during daily five-hour power cuts linked to an energy crisis set off by the drought. To the east, Venezuela's water supplies dropped 25% below the population's needs, forcing restrictions � including cuts of 48 hours per week � until May, when the rainy season is forecast to return. The drought has affected between 70 and 80% of crops, including maize and rice in the heart of Venezuela's cereal production, according to the Guarico Association of Cereal Producers and Cattle Breeders. In Bolivia, at least 11,000 head of cattle died in recent weeks after 20,000 hectares of crops, including maize and potatoes, were destroyed in the south. Farmers in Bolivia complained of going eight months without rain. Water levels in Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake, fell by 4.5 metres, according to Hernan Tuco, deputy civil defence minister. El Ni�o also contributed to an especially calm Atlantic hurricane season � a welcome respite for Caribbean and south-eastern US residents still recovering from a 2008 pounding.


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