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2007 Peru earthquake

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2007 Peru earthquake

Map of the Peru coastline, showing location and strength of quake. Star marks epicenter.
Date August 15 2007
Magnitude 8.0 Mw
Depth 30.2 kilometres (19 mi)
Epicenter 13.32° S 76.51° W
Countries or regions  Peru
Casualties 519 confirmed dead
1,366 injured

The 2007 Peru earthquake was an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the moment magnitude scale that hit the central coast of Peru on Wednesday August 15, 2007; it occurred at 23:40:58 UTC (18:40:58 local time) and lasted for about two minutes. The epicenter was located at 150  kilometres (93  mi) south-southeast of Lima at a depth of 30.2 kilometres (19 mi). The United States Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Centre reported that it was a very strong earthquake.


Main shock and aftershocks map

The cities of Pisco, Ica and Chincha Alta in the Ica Region, and San Vicente de Cañete in the Lima Region were most affected, but the earthquake was also felt in the capital Lima, where the quake broke windows in downtown sectors of the city, as well as various other Peruvian cities, including Pucallpa, Iquitos, Contamana, Trujillo and Cajamarca. Seventeen people died when a church in the city of Ica collapsed and 70 were injured. They were attending mass at the time the earthquake started. More than 58,000 homes were destroyed. The city of Pisco, which is 260 km (160 mi) southeast of Lima, was about 80% destroyed, and as many as 430 people living there died, with 148 of those deaths happening in a collapsed cathedral in the city's main square. The government reported 510 deaths.

The city of Pisco after the earthquake.

A magnitude 5.8 aftershock occurred at 19:02 local time, centered 113 kilometres (70 mi) northeast of Chincha Alta At 19:19 local time, another 5.9 magnitude aftershock occurred, centered 48 kilometres (30 mi) south-southwest of Ica. At least a dozen aftershocks of magnitude 5.0 or greater have been recorded.

The day after, survivors who could not be accommodated in local hospitals in Pisco were taken to Lima by airplane, arriving there later that night. On Sunday, August 19, President of Colombia Álvaro Uribe arrived in Ica.

Tectonic summary

This earthquake occurred at the boundary between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates, which are converging at a rate of 78 mm (3.1 in) per year. The earthquake occurred as thrust faulting on the interface between the two plates, with the South American Plate moving up and seaward over the Nazca Plate. Experts say this kind of earthquake is produced about once every 100 years.

Coastal Peru has a history of very large earthquakes. The August 15 shock originated near the source of two previous earthquakes, both in the magnitude 8 range occurring in 1908 and 1974. This earthquake is south of the source of a magnitude 8.2 earthquake that occurred in northern Peru in 1966 and north of a magnitude 8.3 earthquake that occurred in 2001 near Arequipa in southern Peru. The largest earthquake along the coast of Peru was a magnitude 9 that occurred in 1868. It produced a tsunami that killed several thousand people along the South American coast and also caused damage in Hawaii.

Tsunami warnings

A tsunami warning was issued for Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia and even as far as Hawaii following the earthquakes, but was later cancelled, although some areas of the port city of Callao were evacuated. Tsunami warnings were also made for Panama and Costa Rica, and a tsunami watch was posted for Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and Honduras. All alerts were cancelled after a 25-centimetre (10 in) tsunami came ashore.

A tsunami warning was also issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency stating that waves higher than 20 centimetres (8 in) could reach Japan's northern island, Hokkaidō, on Thursday, August 16, around 19:00 UTC (Friday, 04:00 JST).

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