Rescue workers in Peru now hold out little hope of finding any more survivors from Wednesday’s earthquake that killed more than 500 people. The vast majority of the 34,000 homes destroyed in the Pisco area, south of Lima, were made from mud bricks – heavier than modern building materials and without holes for steel reinforcement. That means the chances of finding life-protecting air pockets are greatly reduced.
Efforts then are mainly focused on taking care of survivors, with the government and aid agencies distributing relief supplies. The magnitude 8 quake is one of the worst natural disasters to hit Peru in recent times, causing cracking major highways and toppling electricity poles.
But, as Colombian President Alvaro Uribe paid a solidarity call on his Peruvian counterpart Alan Garcia, the authorities were keen to play down talk of looting, saying the security situation was broadly under control and accusing the media of exaggerating the problems. Garcia said 2,500 members of the police and armed forces had been brought in to maintain law and order.