By John Quigley and Alex Emery – Oct 28, 2011 9:25 PM GMT+0100
A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck off the west coast of Peru, rattling residents in cities still recovering from a temblor that killed more than 500 people in 2007. No fatalities were immediately reported.
The temblor knocked out power and sent people running from their homes near its center 178 miles (286 kilometers) south- southeast of Lima. In Ica, which was devastated by the magnitude-8 quake in 2007, a cathedral wall and church tower collapsed, along with several mud brick buildings, said Juan Carlos Romani, a spokesman for the city council.
“It was very strong but quick,” said Romani in a telephone interview from Ica, adding that there were no reports of injuries, though power and phone service hadn’t fully returned. “It lasted ten seconds at most but was very violent.”
In Lima, buildings shook for about a minute, and had to be evacuated amid aftershocks, though no damage was immediately reported in the capital.
Southern Copper Corp. (SCCO), Peru’s largest producer of the metal, didn’t sustain any damage at its mines or smelter along the south coast, a company spokesman said. Pluspetrol SA said its Camisea natural gas said didn’t sustain damage either and is operating normally.
Peruvian stocks rose in the hour after the quake struck, with the Lima General Index gaining 0.2 percent to 2044.24 at 4:06 p.m. New York time. The sol was unchanged at 2.7067 per U.S. dollar.
Memories of 2007
Traffic jams were reported in Ica as townspeople struggled to check on their homes and civil defense authorities recommended residents evacuate coastal areas in case of a repeat of the tsunami that followed the 2007 earthquake.
In Pisco, people remained outside of their homes worried about aftershocks a half-hour after the quake struck, Lima-based Radioprogramas reported. The tide went out by about 10 meters in San Andres port along the southern coast, sparking concern among local residents that they could be hit by a tsunami, according to Radioprogramas. The town suffered flooding following Japan’s earthquake and tsunami in March.
Parts of the Pan-American Highway were also blocked by fallen boulders from nearby hillsides.
The 2007 quake was Peru’s worst in more than 30 years, killing at least 510 people and leaving another 80,000 without shelter.
An earlier U.S. Geological Survey report put the magnitude of today’s quake at 7.0. Emergency service authorities in neighboring Chile said they see no risk of a tsunami following the earthquake.