Peru quake strands thousands

BY SUSAN KIM | Baltimore, MD | June 24, 2001

"This earthquake may have caused substantial damage and casualties due to its location and size."

—U.S. National Earthquake Center

In the highlands temperatures are dropping to zero degrees, and many people shivered

through the weekend as more than 100 aftershocks rocked the ground. Afraid to return to

unstable or flattened homes, thousands are living in the streets. The quake killed at least 70

people, injured 1,200, and left 20,500 homeless.

Relief officials are unable to reach many residents in isolated towns, some accessible only by

helicopter. The death toll will rise as rescue workers assess the situation in remote areas,

relief groups reported.

The quake -- one of the largest the world has seen in several years -- lasted for nearly a

minute. Thousands of homes and buildings were leveled or damaged. The city of Arequipa

-- Peru's second-largest city located some 450 miles south of Lima -- was hard hit, and 70

percent of homes there were damaged, according to government reports. In the city of

Moquegua, 80 percent of buildings were damaged or destroyed. Tacna, where some 1,000

houses were destroyed, and Camana were also hard hit, and homes in Lima sustained

damage as well. Water, electricity, and phones were still unavailable Monday in most of

these areas.

In the coastal town of Camana, officials said a tidal wave Saturday had destroyed houses

and killed at least 20 people, with two dozen more missing.

Action by Churches Together (ACT), a global

coalition of faith-based disaster response

organizations, released $20,000 for rapid

response. ACT members in Peru, Diaconia and

Predes, have deployed emergency teams to the

hardest-hit areas. Rescue workers were trying to

distribute medicine along with other aid to avoid

disease outbreaks. The Peruvian Red Cross was

also tending to people's immediate needs.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency

also responded, sending water, blankets, and

tents to some 1,000 families in the Moquegua area. "People's lives have been completely

turned upside down," said Frank Teeuwen, ADRA bureau chief for disaster preparedness

and response. "With temperatures dipping below zero at night, we must focus on the

urgent need for shelter. ADRA also is providing three big water tanks for drinking."

Damages and injuries were also reported in northern Chile. Hardest hit was the city of

Arica, located 1,250 miles north of Santiago.

The U.S. National Earthquake Center in Golden, CO. reported that the earthquake was

centered off Peru's Pacific coast, some 120 miles west of Arequipa.

In 1970, when a 7.7-magnitude quake struck Peru, some 70,000 people died.

As northern Peru tries to respond to the quake, southern Peru is coping with heavy rains

and flooding that have driven thousands of farm families from their homes. According to

ACT, houses, crops, and livestock have been lost and residents face an acute food shortage.

Local ACT partners are assisting families with emergency food, seeds, and tools for

replanting, and also offering training in disaster preparedness.

Week of Compassion, a giving program coordinated through the Christian Church

(Disciples of Christ), is supporting ACT's efforts.

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