LIMA (Reuters) – A strong magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck the coast of southern Peru on Sunday morning, leaving two dead, 17 missing and several dozen injured, while causing homes and roads to collapse.
The quake hit offshore at 4:18 a.m. local time (0918 GMT) at a depth of around 36 km (22.4 miles), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said. Its epicenter was in the Pacific Ocean 40 km from the town of Acari.
Arequipa Governor Yamila Osorio said on Twitter that one 55-year old man died in the town of Yauca after being crushed by rock. Jorge Chavez, chief of Peru’s Civil Defense Institute (INDECI), told local radio station RPP that a second death was reported in the town of Bella Union.
INDECI said on Twitter that 65 people were injured.
“There are several homes affected and it is possible that the count of victims and injured will rise,” Chavez said.
Peru’s health minister said 17 people were missing after an informal mine east of the coastal city of Chala collapsed following the quake.
Several municipalities were without electricity, and many roads and adobe houses had collapsed, Osorio said. Many residents of Lomas, a coastal town, were evacuated after feeling an aftershock, she said.
Earthquakes are common in Peru, but many homes are built with precarious materials that cannot withstand them.
In 2007 an earthquake killed hundreds in the region of Ica.
Peruvian maritime authorities said the quake did not produce a tsunami on the Peruvian coast.
Peru is the world’s No. 2 copper producer, although many of the mines in the south are located far inland from the coastal region where the quake struck. A representative of Southern Copper Corp said there were no reports of damage at its Cuajone and Toquepala mines in the regions of Moguegua and Tacna.
Jesus Revilla, a union leader at the Cerro Verde copper mine in Arequipa, said there were no reports that operations had been affected.
The quake was also felt in northern Chile, Peru’s southern neighbor. Chile’s National Emergency offices said there were no reports of injuries, damage to infrastructure, or interruption of basic services. Chile’s navy said the quake did not meet the conditions that would produce a tsunami off its coast.
Reporting by Marco Aquino and Luc Cohen; Additional reporting by Antonio de la Jara in Santiago; Editing by Dale Hudson and Louise Heavens