1 Dead, Several Injured After 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Peru

Residents in Chala, Peru, on Sunday after an earthquake struck the area.
Andina Agency, via Associated Press

A magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck the coast of southern Peru on Sunday morning, leaving one dead and several dozen injured while causing homes and roads to collapse.

The authorities walked back earlier statements that a second person had died and that 17 people were missing in a mine, signs that the human toll of the quake may not be as stark as previously feared.

The quake hit offshore at 4:18 a.m. at a depth of around 22 miles, the United States Geological Survey said. The epicenter was in the Pacific Ocean around 25 miles from the town of Acari.

Gov. Yamila Osorio of the surrounding Arequipa region said on Twitter that a 55-year-old man had died in the town of Yauca after being crushed by rock. Jorge Chávez, the chief of Peru’s Civil Defense Institute, told the local radio station RPP that 65 people had been injured, but withdrew his earlier statement that a second person had died in the town of Bella Union.

“The victim reportedly found in Bella Union has not been confirmed,” Mr. Chávez said. “Officially, we only have one death.”

Mr. Chávez said damage to roads was impeding the arrival of help to the most-affected zones, which are mainly rural and remote. He said that aid workers and supplies would be flown in from nearby cities.

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said on Twitter that he would travel to the towns of Acari and Chala “to verify the magnitude of the damages and send the corresponding humanitarian aid.”

The health minister, Abel Salinas Rivas, told RPP that rescue workers had spoken with representatives of the informal Estrella mine and confirmed that no one was missing from there. He had said earlier that 17 people were missing as the mine, east of Chala, suffered damages after the quake.

Several municipalities were without electricity, and many roads and adobe houses had collapsed, Ms. Osorio said. Many residents of Lomas, a coastal town, were evacuated after feeling an aftershock.

Earthquakes are common in Peru, but many homes are built with precarious materials that cannot withstand them. In 2007, an earthquake killed hundreds in the region of Ica.

Peruvian maritime authorities said the latest quake had not produced a tsunami on the coast.

Peru is the world’s No. 2 copper producer, although many of the mines in the south are far inland from where the quake struck. A representative of Southern Copper Corporation said there had been no reports of damage at its Cuajone and Toquepala mines in the Moquegua and Tacna regions.

Jesus Revilla, a union leader at the Cerro Verde copper mine in Arequipa, said there had been no reports that operations were affected.

The quake was also felt in neighboring northern Chile.

Chile’s National Emergency offices said there had been no reports of injuries, damage to infrastructure or interruption of basic services. The nation’s Navy said the quake did not meet the conditions that would produce a tsunami off its coast.

SOURCE: Reuters