Peru quake revised to 8.0

At least 450 killed, 1,500 injured.

BY STAFF REPORT | LIMA, Peru | August 16, 2007


Coast of Peru was rocked by a massive earthquake.

A powerful and destructive 8.0-magnitude earthquake jolted Peru on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. At least 450 people were killed and 1,500 others were injured.

Shortly after midnight Thursday, the area was rocked with a 6.3 temblor, the USGS said. The quake initially was reported as a magnitude 7.5, upgraded to to a 7.9 and then revised again to an 8.0.

The death toll following the quake climbed steadily. Buildings were reported damaged and power was knocked out. The hardest hit area was believed to be the city of Ica, about 165 miles southeast of Lima. The quake was centered about 67 miles northeast of Ica.

Action by Churches Together (ACT) contacted their local partners who reported that other hard hit cities include Chincha and Pisco. ACT members in Peru also said that many roads and highways were heavily damaged and that some areas can be reached only by helicopter.

Lutheran World Relief in Peru said that ACT members met Thursday morning in Lima.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) was in Peru assessing survivors' needs as well. The organization initiated an immediate response to meet the most urgent needs of survivors in the earthquake-hit Ica province, including emergency medical care, water, food, tents, and blankets. It was also taking donations to support the relief effort.

A tsunami warning was issued quickly after the earthquake, then canceled a short time later, for Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia. A tsunami watch was also canceled for Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and Honduras. A tsunami advisory had also been posted for Hawaii but was also later canceled.

The 7.9 quake struck at 6:40 p.m. local time (7:40 p.m. EDT) near the central coast of Peru about 90 miles from the capital, Lima. It occurred about 25 miles underground, the USGS said.

The quake was followed by more than a dozen large aftershocks, one a magnitude 5.8 which hit shortly after 7 p.m., the other about 19 minutes later of magnitude 5.9. Those temblors continued through the night with a 6.3 jolt recorded at 12:16 a.m. local time Thursday about 160 miles south-southeast of Lima.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which issued the warnings, watches and advisory, said a tsunami had been generated.

"Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated," it said. "It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter."

News reports said the quake sparked panic and chaos in the streets.

The coast of Peru has been the scene of major earthquakes in the past, the largest of which was a magnitude 9 that occurred in 1868. That temblor caused a tsunami that killed several thousand people along the South American coast and also caused damage in Hawaii, the USGS said. Two other quakes along the coast, in 1908 and 1974, were in the magnitude 8 range.


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