July 9, 2008

Quake Strikes Peru’s Second Largest City

A deadly earthquake that hit Peru's second-largest city Tuesday killed at least six people and damaged countless homes.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter of the 6.2 quake was found 35 miles northwest of Arequipa. It was recorded at a depth of 45 miles.

Arequipa police said a 93-year-old man died after the quake caused a wall of his adobe house to crush him. Witnesses said residents were afraid structures might collapse during the aftershocks and refused to return to their homes after the quake,

Local authorities said in Moquegua, a province near Arequipa, at least five people were killed and another 34 injured when their bus fell into a ravine only moments after the quake. A Chilean and a French tourist were among the dead.

However, it was not clear whether the crash was caused by a faulty road that buckled during the quake or by a mechanical failure, according to the regional police chief.

No one was reported injured in Chile, but earthquake tremors were felt in the mineral-rich northern section of the country, as well as Peru's southernmost province of Tacna. Dirt and debris blocked sections of the coastal highway.

The district chief of Peru's civil defense agency Carlos Nacarino said the epicenter was in a sparsely populated region. Yet, there were reports of power outages in isolated areas.

The third-largest copper mine in Peru-the Cerro Verde copper pit of Freeport-McMoRan-located near the city of Arequipa, was not affected by the quake.

In the nearby Moquegua province, Southern Copper has a mine and smelter, but said its operations were fine.

"Everything has continued operating," said Mauricio Pero, Southern's head of operations in Peru.

UNESCO named the historic center of Arequipa a World Heritage Site in 2000. The city is located about 445 miles southeast of Lima, Peru's capital.


On the Net:

U.S. Geological Survey

EQ 6.2 Arequipa, Peru - PRELIMINARY REPORT