Earthquake in Peru Kills at Least 47
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LIMA, Peru -- A powerful earthquake shook southern Peru on Saturday,
killing at least 47 people and sending dozens of homes, churches and
buildings tumbling to the ground, officials said.
The quake, with a magnitude measured at up to 7.9, hit Peru at 3:30 p.m. and was felt as far away as Bolivia.
Twenty-one people were killed in Arequipa, Peru's second-largest city,
465 miles southeast of Lima, said Santiago Montenegro of Peru's Civil
Defense Institute. Another 16 people were killed and 50 injured in the city of Moquegua southwest of Arequipa, he said.
"For the love of God, please send help," a woman could be heard screaming
while a radio reporter described the destruction in the streets of
Nine people were killed in Tacna, near the border with Chile, Montenegro
said. A soccer field was turned into an outdoor treatment center to treat
some 200 others who were injured, Tacna Mayor Luis Torres said.
In the small coastal town of Camana, 455 miles southeast of Lima, one person was killed and 39 injured, a hospital official said.
At least 30 people were injured in northern Chile, four seriously, the government said.
The quake shook Lima, Peru's capital, for more than a minute, sending residents fleeing from their homes in panic.
Saturday's earthquake measured magnitude 7.9 and was centered off Peru's
Pacific coast, 120 miles west of Arequipa, according to the U.S.
Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo.
Peru's Geophysical Institute put the quake at magnitude 6.9 in Arequipa. The difference could not be immediately explained.
At least 47 homes had collapsed in Arequipa, initial reports said. The
city's imposing cathedral, first constructed in 1656, but rebuilt after
earthquake in 1868, was also damaged. Television images showed large chunks of stone work crumbled away on one of the elaborate steeples.
The other steeple had fallen over.
Rescuers were searching through rubble for survivors. Hundreds of people,
fearful of aftershocks, were camped out in parks and in the streets of
Arequipa, despite temperatures as low as 41 degrees. Arequipa, where it is midwinter, lies 7,670 feet above sea level, radio reports said. At least
20 aftershocks were registered in the area.
Peru's Civil Defense said two cargo planes stocked with 22 tons of food,
blankets and medicine were on their way to the area, with President
Valentin Paniagua was on board one of the flights.
President-elect Alejandro Toledo, who takes office July 28, postponed
a visit to the United States that was set for Sunday and instead planned
fly to Arequipa.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu warned of a possible
tsunami for the Pacific coast of Latin America, but Peru's Geophysical
Institute ruled out the possibility that a major tidal wave would hit its shores.
Authorities in Chile reported the sea being rough but little more. Tsunamis are the undersea waves triggered by volcanic activity or earthquakes.
Arequipa, founded by Spanish conquerors in 1540, has a long history
of devastating earthquakes. The city was completely destroyed by an
earthquake in 1600. Arequipa now has about 1 million inhabitants.
Despite major earthquakes in 1687, 1868, 1958 and 1960, many 17th- and
18th-century buildings -- built from light-colored volcanic rock -- have
survived. Known as "the white city," Arequipa was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO last year.
In Chile, the city hardest hit by Saturday's quake was Arica, 1,250
miles north of Santiago, the capital. Some houses were damaged, and electricity
and telephone services were interrupted, said Emergency Office spokeswoman Carmen Fernandez.
Peru is intermittently shaken by earthquakes, and was battered by a
7.7-magnitude temblor in May 31, 1970, that killed approximately 70,000
On November 12, 1996, 17 people were killed and some 1,500 injured in
a 7.7-magnitude quake that struck Nazca. On May 30, 1990, 137
people were killed in a 6.3-magnitude quake in northern Peru.
A quake with a magnitude of 7 or more is capable of heavy and widespread damage.