The quake struck at 6:41 p.m. (7:41 p.m. ET) and was
centered 38 miles (61 kilometers) west of Chincha Alta, Peru,
and 100 miles (161 kilometers) south-southeast of Lima,
according to the USGS. The epicenter was 29 miles (47
kilometers) below the Earth's surface.
2005, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake centered in Pakistan killed
nearly 75,000 people in Pakistan and India.
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Reuters contributed to this report.
Peru Hit by
Magnitude 7.9 Quake; 17 People Killed
By Alex Emery and Ryan Flinn
Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Peru was rocked by its largest
earthquake in more than three decades, prompting tsunami
warnings throughout the Pacific. A local television station
reported at least 17 people dead and 70 injured.
The temblor, with a magnitude of 7.9, hit about 90 miles
(145 kilometers) south-southeast of the capital, Lima, at 6:41
p.m. local time, the U.S. Geological Survey said on its Web
site. The quake set off tsunami signals and advisories
affecting Peru, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua,
Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras and Hawaii. The
alerts were later canceled.
At least 17 people died and 70 were injured in the
southern coastal town of Ica when several buildings and a
church collapsed, Lima-based Panamericana Television reported.
Buildings collapsed in Lima and three other coastal towns,
according to the station.
``An earthquake of this size has the potential to
generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near
the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines
within hours,'' the U.S. National Weather Service said in a
statement on its Web site.
magnitude 7.0 earthquake carries roughly as much energy
as 199,000 tons of TNT, according to the USGS. That energy is
spread out in waves and not in one particular spot.
Dale Grant, a geophysicist at the National Earthquake
Information Center in Golden, Colorado, said it is the largest
earthquake in Peru since 1974. The magnitude of today's
temblor was initially reported as 7.7.
Today's earthquake the world's biggest since an 8.1
magnitude quake struck off the Solomon Islands in May,
producing a tsunami that killed 54 people.
To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Emery in
; Ryan Flinn in San Francisco at
Last Updated: August 15, 2007 22:46 EDT
At Least 337 Die in Strong Peru Quake
By MONTE HAYES and MAURICIO MUNOZ
08.16.07, 9:12 AM ET
CHINCHA, Peru -
The death toll from a powerful earthquake rose to at
least 337 Thursday, a day after the magnitude-7.9
temblor shook Peru's coast, toppled buildings and
shattered roads, officials said.
More than 827 people were reported injured and the
Red Cross said the toll was expected to rise.
Rescue workers struggled to reach the center of the
destruction, the port city of Pisco about 125 miles
southeast of the capital, Lima. Pisco's mayor said at
least 200 people were buried in the rubble of a church
where they had been attending a service.
"The dead are scattered by the dozens on the
streets," Mayor Juan Mendoza told Lima radio station CPN.
"We don't have lights, water, communications. Most
houses have fallen, churches, stores, hotels, everything
is destroyed," he said, sobbing.
An AP Television News cameraman who reached the city
of Chincha, about 100 miles southeast of Lima, said he
counted 30 bodies under bloody sheets on the floor of
the badly damaged hospital.
Another church collapsed Wednesday evening in the
city of Ica, 165 miles south of Lima, killing 17,
according to cable news station Canal N.
The government rushed police, soldiers, doctors and
aid to the stricken areas along the coast south of the
capital but hundreds of vehicles were paralyzed on the
Pan American Highway by giant cracks in the pavement and
fallen power lines, the AP Television News cameraman
reported from Chincha.
Giorgio Ferrario, head of the Peruvian International
Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, said teams
from the Peruvian Red Cross arrived in Ica and Pisco
after 7 1/2 hours, about three times as long as it would
normally have taken because the earthquake had destroyed
the roads to these areas.
He said that he expected the death toll to climb as
rescue teams worked in the daylight.
News reports said dozens of people in Ica crowded
hospitals that suffered cracks and other structural
damage. The quake also knocked out telephone and mobile
phone service in the capital and to the provinces,
making it impossible to communicate with the Ica area.
Electricity also was cut to Ica and smaller towns
along the coast south of Lima.
An Associated Press photographer said that some homes
had collapsed in the center of Lima and that many people
had fled into the streets for safety. The quake shook
Lima furiously for more than two minutes.
"This is the strongest earthquake I've ever felt,"
said Maria Pilar Mena, 47, a sandwich vendor in Lima.
"When the quake struck, I thought it would never end."
Antony Falconi, 27, was desperately trying to get
public transportation home as hundreds of people milled
on the streets flagging down buses in the dark.
"Who isn't going to be frightened?" Falconi said.
"The earth moved differently this time. It made waves
and the earth was like jelly."
Firefighters were called to put out a fire in a
shopping center. Police reported that large boulders
shook loose from hills and were blocking the country's
Central Highway, which heads east into the Andes
State doctors called off a national strike that began
on Wednesday to handle the emergency. President Alan
Garcia also said public schools would be closed Thursday
because the buildings may be unsafe.
The Civil Defense death toll of 337 first appeared on
its Web site, but the organization's spokesman, Dario
Ariola, refused to confirm the figure, which was much
higher than the numbers provided by the health minister.
But minutes later Civil Defense Commander Aristides
Mussio confirmed the toll on Peru's state television
station, saying one person was killed in Lima and 336 in
the region of Ica.
The U.S. Geological Survey said Wednesday's
earthquake hit at 6:40 p.m. about 90 miles southeast of
Lima at a depth of about 25 miles. Four strong
aftershocks ranging from magnitudes of 5.4 to 5.9 were
The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center
issued a tsunami warning for the coasts of Peru, Chile,
Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama. A tsunami
watch was issued for the rest of Central America and
Mexico and an advisory for Hawaii.
The center canceled all the alerts after about two
hours, but it said the quake had caused an estimated
10-inch tsunami near the epicenter.
The last time a quake of magnitude 7.0 or larger
struck Peru was in September 2005, when a 7.5-magnitude
earthquake rocked the country's northern jungle, killing
four people. In 2001, a 7.9-magnitude quake struck near
the southern Andean city of Arequipa, killing 71 people.
The region sits on two plates that are constantly
shifting and Thursday's earthquake, like most
earthquakes in the area, occurred when one plate dove
under the other quickly, according to Amy Vaughan, a
USGS geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information
Center in Golden, Colo.
The plates are always "moving slowly, but this was a
sudden shift," Vaughan said.
Some of the world's biggest quakes, including the
catastrophic Indian Ocean temblor in 2004 that generated
deadly tsunami waves, are caused by a similar movement
AP Writer Monte Hayes reported from Lima, Peru.
Associated Press writers Leslie Josephs in Lima, Alicia
Chang in Los Angeles and Sarah DiLorenzo in New York
contributed to this report.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights
reserved. This material may not be published broadcast,
rewritten, or redistributed
Hundreds dead after 7.9-magnitude quake in Peru
Updated Thu. Aug. 16 2007
10:20 AM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
A powerful 7.9-magnitude earthquake has rocked
Peru's coastal area near the capital, leaving 337
According to officials, 336 people were killed
in Ica, and one person in Lima.
There are reports that more than 827 people were
injured in cities further to the south of Lima.
In one of the deadliest incidents, 17 people were
killed when a church collapsed in Ica, south of
Lima, according to reports.
"What we fear
actually is that the toll could rise now that the
light is back," the Red Cross' Giorgio Ferrario told
CTV Newsnet from Peru.
"The problem is actually that the affected
area is small towns and beside those small towns
there's extensions of communities, rural
communities, which is more difficult to get the
information from," Ferrario said, adding the Red
Cross had sent a needs assessment team into the
Ica, a city of 650,000, incurred the most
damage from the quake, according to Health Minister
He was trying to get to the city to inspect
the destruction, but along with police, soldiers,
doctors and aid workers, was slowed down by jammed
up highways due to large cracks in the pavement and
downed power lines.
Pisco, a port city 200 kilometres southeast of
Lima, was considered the centre of the quake. The
mayor of that city said a church there also
collapsed, burying at least 200 worshipers.
"The dead are scattered by the dozens on the
streets," Mayor Juan Mendoza told Lima radio station
CPN, through sobs.
"We don't have lights, water, communications.
Most houses have fallen, churches, stores, hotels,
everything is destroyed."
In Chincha, about 160 kilometres southeast of
Lima, the injured were lined up by the dozens to
seek treatment at hospitals despite the fact some of
those buildings also suffered cracks and other
structural damage that made the facilities
A cameraperson from AP Television News who
made it into Chincha said he counted 30 bodies lying
on hospital floors under bloody sheets.
Homes were reportedly damaged and people had
been injured by falling bricks and glass, The
Associated Press reports.
State doctors called off a national strike
that had begun on Wednesday in order to help treat
A number of towns along the coast south of
Lima, including Ica and smaller communities, had
lost electricity. Telephone and mobile phone service
was knocked out in the capital and in the provinces.
"The real extent of the damage to life and
infrastructure will be clear only later on, in the
next days," Ferrario said.
The quake struck about 144 kilometres south of
Lima at a depth of about 40 kilometres, according to
the U.S. Geological Survey.
There were four aftershocks that ranged from
magnitude 5.4 to 5.9.
A tsunami warning was issued for the coasts of
Peru. Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica and
Panama, and a tsunami watch was issued for the rest
of Central America and Mexico. They were later
"It wasn't big enough to be destructive," said
Stuart Weinstein, the centre's assistant director
According to eyewitness accounts, Lima shook
for more than a minute when the quake was underway,
and some homes in the centre of the city had
"This is the strongest earthquake I've ever
felt," said Maria Pilar Mena, 47, a sandwich vendor
"When the quake struck, I thought it would
The last major quake to hit Peru struck on
Sept. 2005, when a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit the
north, killing four people.
Prior to that, in 2001, a 7.9-magnitude
earthquake struck near Arequipa in the south,
With files from The
Powerful aftershocks rattle Peru
The quake's magnitude
is raised from 7.9 to 8.0. At least 450 people
are killed and more than 1,500 injured.
Roads were cut to the hard-hit
southern region, officials said,
hampering rescue efforts.
death toll continued to rise as rescue
workers dug beneath the rubble in the
cities of Chincha and Pisco, near the
epicenter off the Peruvian coast, 100
miles south of Lima, the capital.
The quake's magnitude was raised
from 7.9 to 8.0 today by the U.S.
Geological Survey. At least 15
aftershocks followed, some as strong
as magnitude 6.3.
In New York, U.N. Assistant
Secretary-General Margareta Wahlstrom
said Peruvian authorities told her
agency that the death toll had risen
Hospitals were struggling to
keep up with the flow of injured,
local media reported.
Many buildings were damaged in
Pisco and Chincha, and residents were
reported to be stunned and looking for
About 200 people were waiting to
be treated at a quake-damaged hospital
"Our services are saturated and
half of the hospital has collapsed,"
said Dr. Huber Malma, who was trying
desperately to treat dozens of
Large areas of Chincha were
leveled. Dozens of homes, most of them
built with adobe bricks, had
In Pisco, about 125 miles south
of the capital, the mayor told
reporters that 200 or more people were
buried in the rubble of a church,
which collapsed when services were
"The dead are scattered by the
dozens on the streets," Mayor Juan
Mendoza told Lima radio station CPN.
Peruvian media reported that
several people were killed when the
bell tower of an 18th century church
toppled in Ica, about 150 miles south
of Lima. Dozens more were injured when
hospital buildings collapsed and power
lines fell in Ica, leaving the city of
200,000 in darkness as emergency
workers searched for victims.
The U.S. Geological Survey said
the quake, which struck at 6:41 p.m.
local time Wednesday, occurred on a
historically active thrust fault about
25 miles below the Earth's surface.
Two aftershocks measuring 5.9 and 5.8
on the Richter scale struck less than
30 minutes later.
Officials said the quake
generated a 10-inch wave that quickly
dissipated along the coast. Tsunami
alerts were canceled in South and
Central America, but an advisory
remained in effect for Hawaii late
Peruvian authorities ordered the
evacuation of several seaside
communities, including one near
Callao, the country's largest port,
where at least 70 buildings were
damaged and dozens of people injured
as structures collapsed, according to
Gen. David Salazar, commander of the
national police. Colombia's
southernmost port, Tumaco, also was
residents fled to higher ground even
as authorities issued reports that the
region was not in danger of being hit
by tidal waves.
"We ask for calm," President
Alan Garcia said in a nationally
televised address as he declared a
state of emergency in Ica and the
surrounding region. With repeated
aftershocks striking the region, he
said, Peruvians should leave coastal
areas "as a precaution ... without
Lima media broadcast calls from
coastal residents worried about tidal
waves. Fishermen called in to Radio
Programas del Peru saying the ocean
A landslide blocked the coastal
highway linking Lima to Pisco and
other cities south of the capital. And
the temblor sent thousands of people
scurrying from high-rises in Lima,
where two people were reported dead.
"We were on the fourth floor,
and it caught us totally by surprise,"
said Patricia Miyashiro, a Lima office
worker. "All the books fell, and we
ran out to the street."
Some buildings were damaged in
central Lima, and there were reports
of fires at a clothing warehouse.
USGS officials said the quake
took place "at the boundary between
the Nazca and South American tectonic
plates." The South American plate is
creeping west, up and over the Nazca
plate, at the rate of 3 inches per
year, according to USGS.
Ica, a provincial capital,
appeared to take the hardest hit.
Officials said the city's cathedral,
whose El Señor de Luren chapel is the
focal point of an annual pilgrimage in
October, was severely damaged.
At least one of the church's
towers collapsed. According to news
reports, some people had gathered at
the church for the celebration of the
Assumption of the Virgin Mary, a Roman
Catholic day of obligation celebrated
Witnesses said that in the hours
after the quake the city was a picture
of desolation and destruction, with
downed power poles blocking streets
and looters roaming the business
"The hospitals have collapsed,
the doctors are treating patients
outside the four hospitals," reporter
Gustavo Sulca of America TV told
Peruvian viewers from Ica. "People are
roaming about the medical centers
The Lima newspaper El Comercio
reported on its website that Ica
residents had gathered in parks and
other open areas as aftershocks
continued late Wednesday.
President Garcia said he was
sending the country's health minister
and two other Cabinet members to Ica.
Garcia ordered off-duty police
to report to Lima to prevent looting
and ordered public schools closed
today until inspectors could guarantee
their buildings' safety.
Special correspondent León reported
from Lima and staff writer Tobar from
Mexico City. Times staff writer
Patrick J. McDonnell in Sao Paulo,
Brazil, and Andrés D'Alessandro of The
Times' Buenos Aires Bureau contributed
to this report. The Associated Press
The Peru 8.0 earthquake was
felt in Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, and even Colombia.
This is considered to be the most serious earthquake in the
last several decades in Peru. The only communication system
working is the Internet. No water, no electricity, no
telephones, no food. President Alan Garcia has called a State
of Emergency for at least for the next 60 days.
Situation is getting worst---Over
1,000 dead; people are in the streets destroying entire cities
looking for food, more tourists missing. Aftershocks are
intensifying and people are terrified.
According to sources,
the city of Pisco is being reported as completely destroyed.
Homes do not exist; bodies are all over the place and no hope
to find people alive. Still not able to get to remote
estimated to be around 300 from the Pisco jail, escaped when
one entire wall fell and left the prison open.
Huge fractures in the Earth's crust
are visible throughout the locations. Electric wires are
hanging all over the cities blocking the main highways south
of Lima to the Andes mountains. No access is possible.
Pope Benedict XVI
is asking all countries in the western world for help to
assist Peru in this tragedy.
International Red Cross
and the Crescent Moon, have sent airplanes, tents, plastic
covers, blankets, and water.
In Peru, a dismal routine
Survivors bury hundreds killed in
August 18, 2007
PISCO, Peru - Even the cemetery was in
ruin, the tombstones cracked and the mausoleums skirted
with piles of rubble.
Carlos Zuniga and his granddaughter, Maria, 17, blankly
watched as another parade of polished caskets passed by --
about the only objects in this town not coated in a film
of thick dust.
Two days before, Maria had been chatting on the second
floor of her home with her mother and grandmother about
buying a new dresser. The next thing she knew, she
recalled, she was being pulled from under a sheet of
concrete and everyone was telling her how lucky she was.
But she didn't feel fortunate. Her mother and grandmother
were dead under the same rubble, among the estimated 510
people killed by the earthquake that shook Peru's coast
On Friday, she and her grandfather
followed their relatives' coffins into Pisco's main
cemetery, completing a grim journey that keeps repeating
here as more bodies are pulled from the debris, more
coffins are filled and more families try to restore some
semblance of normality to their upended lives.
"The family below us all died," Maria said as a man with a
pickax continued to dig her mother's grave.
The Zunigas are like a lot of families in this
working-class city of 116,000, living together in part of
a simply constructed, boxy building. Carlos Zuniga, 67,
spends his workdays to the north in Lima, enduring a
125-mile bus ride that a modest salary makes bearable. His
ride home Thursday, after he was stranded in the capital
overnight, gave him a vivid glimpse of what had become of
the arid strip of coastline most affected by the 8.0
The evidence was subtle in Lima, but his bus windows soon
provided a glimpse of progressive destruction. About
halfway into the four-hour ride, he saw people lining the
road with plastic buckets, hoping for water trucks. Brick
walls painted with political slogans from this year's
election were half-collapsed, scrambling the letters of
candidates' names. The bus slowed as it neared Pisco; the
quake had ripped 10-foot-deep ruts into the convulsed
He said he had to walk the final 5 miles to what was left
of his home. Only then did he understand what it looks
like when 70 percent of a city's buildings are reduced to
rock and dust.
"I don't know how this could ever be rebuilt," he said.
"What can be done when suddenly there is nothing?"
Like most who lost homes and family members, he was drawn
to the central plaza. The flat expanse of relatively empty
space has become a hospital, a morgue and a lifeline for
those desperate for food and water.
"We evacuate people to Lima if we can't keep them here,"
said Carlos Orellana, a doctor supervising 100
emergency-care personnel working in tents in the square.
"But as the days go on, it's more cadavers than
Dozens of bodies have been pulled from the ruins of the
San Clemente church, which sits directly across from the
hospital tents. The church collapsed in the quake, while
hundreds of worshipers were inside, celebrating the Feast
of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and a memorial mass
for a man who had died a month earlier. At least 50 bodies
reportedly have been found so far.
At the cemetery, Carlos Zuniga watched his daughter's
casket being lowered into place, and the casket of his
wife of 45 years placed atop hers.
"They died together as if they were hugging," he said,
pressing a finger under his glasses.
Maria was embraced by an older brother whose face was
streaked with scars and partly covered by a bloody
Workers eventually covered the casket with dirt and
concrete. Carlos Zuniga wept and stumbled from the grave.
Meanwhile, in a clearing just outside the cemetery's main
wall, hundreds of people milled around and workers dug
dozens of new holes in the ground.
- - -
How to help
The agency is providing water-purification tablets, water
containers and water tanks.
To donate, go to www.unicefusa.org or call 800-4UNICEF.
Catholic Relief Services
The group's field staff is coordinating delivery of
To donate, go to www.crs.org, call 877-HELP-CRS
or mail a check to Catholic Relief Services, P.O. Box
17090, Baltimore, MD 21203-7090.
The group seeks the public's donations and wants
corporations to provide supplies.
To donate, go to www.opusa.org or call 800-678-7255.
The organization is providing relief and collecting
donations for humanitarian services.
To donate, go to www.chfinternational.org or call 866-779-2CHF.
Copyright © 2007,