Strong 8.0-magnitude earthquake jolts Peru, one dead

Strong 8.0-magnitude earthquake jolts Peru, one dead

Peru quake
Handout picture released by the Peruvian Fire Department showing a house damaged by an 8.0 earthquake in Yurimaguas, Peru. (HO/Peru's Fire Department/AFP)

LIMA: A powerful 8.0-earthquake struck northern Peru in the early hours of Sunday (May 26), toppling houses, blocking roads and knocking out power to some localities. 

One person was killed and 18 others injured as the shockwave extended into neighbouring Ecuador, authorities said.

"There are many old houses that have collapsed after this strong earthquake," said Hugo Araujo, the mayor of Yurimaguas, a town near the epicentre.

Peru earthquake
The force of the quake brought down many old houses in Yurimaguas, a town near the epicentre in a lightly populated area of Peru's Amazon basin. (Screengrab: USGS)

The quake hit in a lightly populated area of Peru's Amazon basin but was felt over a wide area. In Lima and other cities frightened residents rushed into the streets.

Peru's civil defence coordinator Ricardo Seijas told RPP radio that a man was killed when a rock fell on his house in the region of Cajamarca.

Danilo Munoz, the 48-year-old victim, was asleep when the quake struck at 2.41am (3.41pm Singapore time).

Seijas said 11 people were injured in Peru. Ecuador's Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner said an additional seven people were injured in his country.

More than 50 houses in Peru were left uninhabitable, Seijas said.

The quake blocked roads, damaged a bridge and knocked down houses, said Peru's President Martin Vizcarra, adding that it was the most powerful quake to hit the country in 12 years.

Martin Vizcarra
Peru's President Martin Vizcarra (2nd right) arrives at an airport in Yurimaguas before touring the area affected by a quake in the Amazon region. (GUADALUPE PARDO/POOL/AFP)

Peru landslide
Aerial view shows a landslide caused by a quake in Yurimaguas, in the Amazon region in Peru.  (GUADALUPE PARDO/POOL/AFP)

"It is an earthquake affecting the entire Peruvian jungle," he said.

"We are coordinating to establish an air bridge to transport people who have an emergency," he said.

The quake struck about 75 kilometres southeast of the town of Lagunas and toward the border with Brazil, at a depth of at least 110 kilometres.

The US Geological Survey and Peruvian geophysicists said the quake registered 8.0 in magnitude. They said it lasted just over two minutes.

The mayor of Lagunas, Arri Pezo, said many residents who fled from their homes later stayed in the streets for fear of aftershocks.

"You could not walk at the time of the earthquake, things were falling," Pezo told the RPP radio. Power was knocked out, making it difficult to assess the damage, he said.

One of the most dramatic moments captured on social media happened in Yurimaguas. Video from the police station shows the police chief shouting at his subordinates to quickly open the jail cells and get inmates outside.

"The earthquake is strong!" he is heard yelling. "Open the cells! Help with the detainees, get one each!"

The USGS put the depth of the quake at 110 kilometres, while the Institute of Geophysics of Peru said it was 141 kilometres deep.

Quakes of similar depth "typically cause less damage on the ground surface (but) ... may be felt at great distance from their epicentres," it later added.

Experts at the US-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there was "no tsunami threat because the earthquake is located too deep inside the earth."


The shockwave of Sunday's tremor also extended to neighbouring Ecuador, where power cuts were reported in parts of the Amazon region.

Peruvian media said the tremor was also felt in parts of Colombia and Venezuela.

Peru lies on the so-called Ring of Fire - an arc of fault lines that circles the Pacific Basin and is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The South American country records about 200 earthquakes a year, most of them going unnoticed by the public.

In February a quake measuring 7.5 with its epicentre in Ecuador rattled the coast and Amazon region of northern Peru.

It left nine people injured and caused damage in Ecuador, but Peru was unscathed.

Source: AFP/de