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Powerful earthquake in Peru kills over 115

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« on: August 16, 2007, 04:07:01 am »

Powerful earthquake in Peru kills 115
By MONTE HAYES, Associated Press Writer
23 minutes ago


Map locating the epicentre of 7.9 magnitude quake that hit southern Peru Wednesday. The powerful earthquake has devastated several Peruvian cities, killing at least 115 people in toppled buildings and forcing the government to declare a state of emergency.(AFP/Graphic/Martin Megino)

LIMA, Peru - A powerful 7.9-magnitude earthquake shook Peru's coast near the capital, killing at least 115 people and injuring more than 1,000 others, the country's health minister said early Thursday.

Speaking on radio stations Radioprogramas and CPN, Health Minister Carlos Vallejos gave the latest toll of victims and said he was trying to reach the city of Ica, the hardest hit by the quake.

Among the dead were 17 people killed when a church collapsed in Ica, a city of 650,000 people located 165 miles southeast of the capital, according to cable news station Canal N. Another 70 people were injured in that incident.

Deputy Health Minister Jose Calderon called the situation there "dramatic."

He encouraged Peruvians to donate blood for the injured and said a convoy of doctors and nurses was headed to the Ica area. News reports said dozens of people were crowding hospitals in the city seeking help even though the hospitals had suffered cracks and other structural damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey said Wednesday's earthquake hit at 6:40 p.m. (7:40 p.m. EDT) 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 felt afterward.

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.

"It wasn't big enough to be destructive," said Stuart Weinstein, the center's assistant director.

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 capital shook for more than a minute.

"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."

President Alan Garcia ordered all police personnel to the streets of Lima to keep order and said he was sending the country's health minister and two other Cabinet members to Ica. Garcia also said public schools would be closed Thursday because the buildings may be unsafe.

Police reported that large boulders shook loose from hills and were blocking the Central Highway east of Lima.

Callers to Radioprogramas, Peru's main news radio station, said parts of several cities in southern Peru had been hit with blackouts. Callers reported homes in poor neighborhoods in Chincha near Ica had collapsed.

The quake also knocked out telephone service and mobile phone service in the capital. Firefighters were called to put out a fire in a shopping center. State doctors called off a national strike that began on Wednesday to handle the emergency.

The last time a quake of magnitude 7.0 or larger struck Peru was in September 2005, when a 7.5 magnitude earthquake rocked Peru'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 latest Peru quake occurred in a subduction zone where one section of the Earth's crust dives under another, said USGS geophysicist Dale Grant at the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado.

Some of the world's biggest quakes strike in subduction zones including the catastrophic Indian Ocean temblor in 2004 that generated deadly tsunami waves.


Associated Press writers Leslie Josephs in Lima, Peru, and Alicia Chang in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2007, 04:07:35 am by Adrienne » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2007, 04:08:48 am »

The latest death toll I have heard of this is 330, this could be very bad.
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« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2007, 07:14:57 am »

Residents carry a coffin with the remains of a relative through the streets of Pisco, Peru, Saturday, Aug. 18, 2007. At least 510 people were killed and 1,500 were injured in the magnitude-8 earthquake on Peru's southern coast that overwhelming the few hospitals in the region. (AP Poto/Martin Mejia)

Peru quake survivors grow desperate By FRANK BAJAK, Associated Press Writer
Sun Aug 19, 3:20 AM ET

PISCO, Peru - The government sent the army Saturday to stop looting fueled by rising desperation in earthquake-shattered Peru, where tens of thousands were without fresh water and shivering families huddled in makeshift shelters at the center of the devastation.

In a soccer stadium in the port city of Pisco, more than 500 people rushed a lone truck that ran out little packets of crackers, candy and toilet paper, screaming that they had not eaten and accusing rescue workers of keeping supplies for themselves.

As many as 80 percent of the people in quake-hit urban areas may not have access to clean water and many rural communities still have not been reached to assess the damage, said Dominic Nutt, part of an emergency assessment team in Peru for the aid agency Save the Children.

"The situation is probably worse than first imagined," Nutt said.

President Alan Garcia sent 1,000 troops to stop the looting. "We're going to establish order, regardless of what it costs," he said.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Allan Wagner told The Associated Press in Pisco that the death toll from Wednesday's magnitude-8 quake had risen to 540, up from the previous figure of 510 provided by firefighters.

Destruction from the quake, which also injured at least 1,500 people, was centered in the cities of Ica and Pisco in Peru's southern desert, about 125 miles southeast of the capital, Lima.

Aftershocks continued in the area Saturday as a 5.8-magnitude temblor struck off the coast between Ica.

Garcia said at least 80,000 people were affected in some way, mostly through the destruction or damage of homes.

At one end of a soccer field in Pisco, families who had lost everything huddled in a half dozen makeshift shelters made of cardboard and blankets held up by wooden poles.

"We don't have water. The tents have not arrived," said Maria Tataja, 38, who shared an open-fronted shelter with nine other people. She shivered in the ocean breeze.

Some people complained of price-gouging and said the cost of basic foods had doubled or tripled at the local market. Others arrived in Pisco's central square asking for canned milk and other goods but often left empty-handed.

Soldiers stood guard at supply depots and tried to ensure that aid trucks made it to their destinations.

Miguel Soto, a police officer standing guard in the Pisco stadium, said food donated by one Lima district had been raided on the traffic-clogged highway to Pisco. Many other food trucks simply weren't getting through, he said.

Responding to criticism that aid was not arriving quickly enough, Jorge del Castillo, Garcia's Cabinet chief, told El Comerico newspaper said that all planes available were now being used to ferry supplies to the victims. Immediately after the quake, many of the aircraft were used to carry the injured to Lima, he said.

Motorcycle taxi driver Marco Coila said he had moved his family out of Pisco to a village where they had hoped to find more food.

"There is nothing to eat. There is a lot of looting going on," he said.

Rescuers continued to pull bodies from the rubble of the San Clemente church in downtown Pisco, where hundreds had gathered for Mass when the quake struck Wednesday.

Local media reported Saturday that a 10-month-old boy had been pulled alive from the ruins of the church hours after the earthquake one of the more heartwarming stories to emerge in the aftermath of the disaster.

"It was a miracle that he had survived so many hours breathing only dust and death," Romulo Palomino told the state news agency Andina.

Palomino said he had been searching frantically through the adobe and wood rubble of the church for his parents when he discovered the infant in a pile of broken timbers. The baby's parents have not been located and Palomino and his wife are taking care of him for now, Andina reported.

Hopes of finding more survivors diminished on Saturday.

Paul Wooster, coordinator of the Rapid UK Rescue team from Gloucester, England, said rescuers were using sound detectors and infrared cameras to search mountains of rubble. The latest survivor discovered, a man, was pulled from the rubble at midday Friday.

"We always work on a four-day window and I'm talking realistically. So we are still looking for survivors but there's not much more time," Wooster said.

The U.S. dispatched medical teams, two mobile clinics and two helicopters, along with $150,000 to buy emergency supplies. S. Ward Casscells, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, arrived in Pisco on Saturday to assess the needs of the people and how the U.S. can help.


Associated Press writers Jeanneth Valdivieso in Pisco and Monte Hayes, Leslie Josephs and Edison Lopez in Lima contributed to this report.

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