Powerful aftershocks continued to hit Peru as rescuers began the search for victims and survivors of the main earthquake.
The tremor, registering 7,9 on the Richter Scale, is believed to be the strongest anywhere in the world since 1990.
It’s feared at least 350 people died with more than a thousand injured. But those numbers are expected to rise, as links to the worst-hit parts of the country were cut.
Hospitals were overrun in the cities of Chincha and Pisco. Power cuts left doctors struggling to cope with the injured.
The region around Ica took the main brunt of the shocks. Most of the victims died there, including at least four people who were killed when a church steeple collapsed.
Rescuers trying to reach Ica were hampered by deep crevasses on parts of the Pan-American Highway, the major coastal route.
The quake hit at night, in what’s known as a subduction zone, where one section of the Earth’s crust dives under another.
The epicentre was some 150 kms south of Lima, at a depth of about 30 kms.
In 1970, some 50,000 people died in Peru, when a massive earthquake caused mudslides which buried the city of Yungay.