Peru's Southern Coast Hit by 7-Magnitude Quake Injuring 16

By John Quigley - Sep 26, 2013 9:07 AM PT

A 7-magnitude earthquake struck off Peru's southern coast yesterday as the South American nation's strongest temblor in two years injured 16 people while damaging homes and schools.

The quake struck at 11:42 a.m. local time, at a depth of 25 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a bulletin on its website after initially reporting the magnitude at 6.8. There were no reports of a tsunami.

Four homes collapsed and scores of houses and school buildings were damaged by the temblor in Arequipa, 460 kilometers (286 miles) south of Lima, the region nearest the epicenter, Peru's civil defense authority Indeci said on its website.

"Schools were open when this happened and, although there were a few problems, the fact that we were prepared helped," Cabinet Chief Juan Jimenez told Lima-based Radio Programas. "We can't drop our guard and we have to continue with the drills that allow us to be prepared for these situations."

A report by El Comercio saying three people died when an underground mine collapsed wasn't confirmed and may have been based on poor information, Indeci spokeswoman Soledad Arevalo said in a phone interview from Lima today.

Twelve workers were injured at the mine in Caraveli, a province in Arequipa, the Lima-based newspaper reported on its website, citing regional civil defense chief, Miguel Alayza.

Homes Shook
Window panes shattered as homes shook near the epicenter in the town of Acari, Radio Programas reported. Mayor Carlos Mejia said the quake left cracks in the walls of buildings and may have destroyed homes made of adobe mud-bricks in rural areas.

Buildings shook in the capital Lima while some roads were blocked and towns lost power in parts of Arequipa and the neighboring Ayacucho region, according to Indeci.

There was "no apparent impact" at Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX)'s Cerro Verde copper mine in Arequipa, spokesman Eric Kinneberg said in an e-mailed response to questions yesterday.

Peru is the world's third-largest copper and zinc producer.

Transportadora de Gas del Peru SA's Camisea gas pipeline was operating normally after the quake, according to a company official who asked not to be named citing company policy.

Rocks and boulders fell onto the Pan-American highway in Arequipa, blocking one lane, the Transport Ministry said in an e-mailed statement.

2007 Devastation
People ran outside their homes in the city of Ica, about 270 kilometers south of Lima, Radio Programas reported. In 2007, the area was devastated by Peru's worst temblor in more than 30 years that killed at least 510 people and left 80,000 homeless.

President Ollanta Humala said he would probably cut short a visit to New York, where he addressed the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, his office said in an e-mailed statement.

Humala was scheduled to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange at 4 p.m. today.

The sol was unchanged at 2.7630 per dollar at 9:14 a.m. The Lima General Index (IGBVL) climbed 0.2 percent to 16,037.81.
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