Some 88,200 people have been displaced here by floods caused by two months of rising waters in the Paraguay River, while nationwide the number of those driven from their homes dropped from 245,000 to 222,000, the head of the SEN emergency management agency told Efe Friday.

"In Asuncion the number shouldn't increase. It should go down. It hasn't happened yet but we assume these numbers will decline," Joaquin Roa said.

In its last report on the situation issued July 9, the SEN counted some 88,000 displaced persons in the capital.

Those evacuees have moved into some 120 ramshackle shelters in streets and squares, where they put together huts with the wood and metal sheeting provided by the authorities.

Roa said the government is now coordinating a "phase of humanitarian maintenance of the affected families."

Since reaching its peak on July 10 at a height of 7.38 meters (24 feet) on its course through Asuncion, the Paraguay River has dropped minimally and for three days has been at the level of 7.16 meters (23 1/2 feet), the weather service said Friday.

In recent months the river has engulfed homes, schools and streets along the banks of the river in the capital, forcing residents to get away from there several times.

Besides the capital, the areas most affected by the flooding are Ñeembucu province, with 44,795 people affected, Presidente Hayes with some 35,170 and Alto Paraguay with 24,090 affected.

The lowering of the Paraguay River's level will be slow and progressive, experts say, adding that the arrival of the El Niño phenomenon within a few months will bring more rain than is normal at that time of year, with the probability that the water level will rise once again. EFE