Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Peru quake evokes terrible memories

The 2007 quake killed 596 people and largely destroyed the town of Pisco, Peru (AP)

A magnitude-6.9 earthquake off Peru's central coast sent panicked people running into the streets in cities badly damaged by a killer quake four years earlier.

People who had lost loved ones and homes in the earlier quake were badly shaken and some broke down.

"It felt like the one in 2007 because it was very strong," Felix Sihuas told RPP radio. He said he was buried under rubble for six hours in the August 15 2007 quake, which killed 596 people and largely destroyed the town of Pisco.

Friday's quake was considerably less violent in Lima, a city of 8.5 million people. The capital shook for about 30 seconds in a series of moderate, swaying movements.

The US Geological Survey said the quake was centred 31 miles south-south west of Ica, a provincial capital of about 200,00 people which suffered widespread damage in the 2007 quake. It was at a depth of 21.7 miles.

Peru's government-run Institute of Geophysics put the quake's magnitude at 6.7 and put its depth at 19 miles. The USGS said the killer 2007 quake was centred 24 miles deep.

A seismologist at the institute, Hernan Tavera, told RPP the 2007 quake released 33 times more energy than Friday's temblor but this time " the radius of action was far wider".

In Pisco, police officer Julio Lopez said people were frightened though the quake was not nearly as bad as the 2007 temblor. "It wasn't like the last time. It was shorter," said Jorge Luis Yupanqui, 30, from Pisco. "Some people started to cry."

He said there was a big traffic jam in Pisco because he, like many others, went home to make sure his family and home were safe.

About 40,000 homes were destroyed in the 2007 quake and the previous government of President Alan Garcia was widely criticised for the slow pace of reconstruction.