Major earthquake strikes Peru followed by multiple large aftershocks

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Map showing location and strength of 7.9 quake. Star marks epicenter. Black box indicates hardest hit areas.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) a major earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 has struck just off the coast of Peru followed by 16 aftershocks with magnitudes ranging from the lowest of 4.5 and the highest of 6.3.

According to Peruvian government officials, 540 deaths and at least 1,600 injured people have been reported throughout the country and some power in Lima has been lost. Reports say some buildings and houses have collapsed including a church and some landslides have also been reported. Hospital workers ended a strike to assist those in need of medical attention.

"There have been losses in the south. But thankfully this has not been a human catastrophe," said the President of Peru, Alan Garcia.

Map showing the initial quake location and locations of all 11 aftershocks.

The initial quake with a magnitude of 7.9 was recorded at at 23:40:57 (UTC) at a depth of 30.2 kilometers (18.8 miles) and was located 45 km (25 miles) west-northwest of Chincha Alta, but witnesses report feeling the quake as far away as Lima, where buildings shook. The USGS says that damage could be heavy.

The first aftershock, a magnitude 5.8 struck at 00:02:42 UTC and was located 70 km (45 miles) south-southwest of Huancayo in central Peru. That quake had a depth of 31.2 km (19.4 miles).

The largest aftershock of the 13, had a magnitude of 6.3 and struck at 05:16:58 (UTC) and was located 35 km (22 miles) southwest of Ica off Peru's coast.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Tsunami Warning Center briefly issued a tsunami warning for areas 100 km from the epicenter stating that "it is not known that a tsunami was generated" and that the warnings issued are based on the "evaluation of the earthquake only," but "an earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours." All tsunami warnings were subsequently canceled.


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