Earthquake of magnitude 8 dead and 26 wounded in Peru and Ecuador

A magnitude 8 earthquake struck a region of the Amazon rainforest at dawn on Sunday, killing one person and injuring at least 26 people in Peru and Ecuador and causing panic in Lima, where many residents rushed into the street in the middle of the night, in pajamas and in the rain.

The earthquake occurred at 02:41 local time (07:41 GMT) about 70 km southeast of Lagunas, a town of 12,000 in northern Peru. Its magnitude was evaluated at 8 by the Geophysical Institute of Peru (IGP) and by its American counterpart USGS.

"We are being told of the death of a person because of the fall of a rock on his home" in the district of Huarango, in northern Peru, said the coordinator of the Civil Defense Ricardo Seijas on RPP radio.

The earthquake left 11 injured and demolished 53 homes and five schools, he said. Fifteen other wounded have been identified by the authorities in neighboring Ecuador.

"Many old houses have collapsed because of this strong earthquake," said Yurimaguas Mayor Hugo Araujo.

In the most affected areas, thousands of people have rushed out of their homes. In the city of La Rioja, a concert of a popular singer attended by a thousand people was abruptly interrupted.

A video posted on Instagram by the singer, Ezio Oliva, shows the audience screaming in terror and rushing haphazardly towards the exit, without listening to the calls for calm launched by the musician.

"I have just experienced one of the biggest fears of my life," commented Mr. Oliva.

- "Help the detainees!" -

Another video turned viral shows the head of the Yurimaguas police station ordering his subordinates to open the cells and take the prisoners outside: "It's violent! I order you to open the cells Help the detainees, take one each mess! "

The depth of the earthquake was estimated 110 km by the USGS and 141 km by the Peruvian Institute. In general, the greater the depth of the earthquake, the less the impact is strong on the surface but the wave spread in this case more widely, which is why it was felt in Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela.

The jolt, which lasted 127 seconds, brought the residents of the capital Lima out of their homes in the morning and in the rain.

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, who was in Lima for a meeting of the Andean Community on Sunday, wrote on Twitter that power cuts had occurred in Yantzaza, while the earthquake was also felt in the agglomeration of Guayaquil, on the Pacific Ocean.

In Peru, President Martin Vizcarra told the press that he had been informed of collapsed houses, blocked roads and a destroyed bridge.

"This is an earthquake of great magnitude, the strongest affecting the country in the last twelve years," said the head of state, before traveling to Yurimaguas, the nearest town to the epicenter. He announced the setting up of an air bridge to evacuate people in emergency situations.

The geologist Patricio Valderrama, of the center of surveillance and prevention of the disasters, emphasized that "the north of Peru had not felt a seism such since the great earthquake of 1970". A shock of magnitude 7.9 then struck the region of Ancash (north-east), causing more than 70,000 deaths.

According to the mayor of Lagunas, Arri Pezo, residents refuse to return home for fear of aftershocks. "We can not check if there is damage because there is no electricity," he told RPP radio.

"It was impossible to walk at the time of the earthquake, the objects were falling," he said.

Earthquakes are common in Peru, as well as in neighboring Ecuador and Chile. On August 15, 2017, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake in the Ica region, 325 km south of Lima, killed more than 500 people.

Source: Seychelles News Agency