Peru Hit by Magnitude-7.0 Earthquake, U.S. Agency Says

A magnitude-7.0 earthquake rattled most of Peru today without causing any casualties or major damages, companies and government spokesmen said.

The quake struck about 354 miles north-northeast of the capital, Lima, at 1:46 p.m. New York time in Peru’s Amazon region, the U.S. Geological Service reported on its website. The temblor occurred at a depth of about 90 miles and was followed by a magnitude-5.3 temblor an hour later, the USGS said.

“Large earthquakes like that typically have a good number of aftershocks,” USGS spokesman John Bellini said in a telephone interview.

Telephone and mobile phone services were functioning intermittently in Peru following the quake, which shook office buildings in the capital and forced companies to evacuate their personnel. Civil Defense director Alberto Bisbal said no casualties or damages were reported near the epicenter in the northern jungle.

Northern Andean gold mines operated by Barrick Gold Corp. and Newmont Mining Corp., and Argentine oil company Pluspetrol SA’s northern jungle oilfields weren’t damaged by the quake, spokesmen for the companies said. Maple Energy Plc’s oil refinery in the northeastern jungle city of Pucallpa is operating normally, General Manager Guillermo Ferreyros said in e-mailed comments.

Region, APEC

The earthquake was also felt in neighboring Andean countries Ecuador and Bolivia, according to Spanish news agency Efe. No damages or casualties were reported in either country.

Business leaders from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation trading bloc will propose the creation of a fund to tackle natural disasters to leaders at the November Apec summit in Hawaii, Juan Francisco Raffo, head of Apec’s business consulting group, said today at a meeting in Lima.

“A fund is necessary to face natural disasters, after seeing what happened in Japan and the earthquake yesterday in Washington,” Raffo told reporters. “We should bear in mind that four years after Peru’s August 2007 quake, the area still hasn’t been rebuilt.”

A magnitude-9.0 quake near the coast of Japan in March and subsequent tsunami left more than 20,000 people dead or missing.

Peru, where half the population of 30 million lives on $1 a day, has suffered three destructive earthquakes in the past decade, including a 8.0 quake in August 2007 that killed 525 people and left 200,000 homeless on the south coast. Peru is Latin America’s seventh-largest economy.

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia rocked the U.S. East Coast yesterday, damaging buildings in Washington including the Washington National Cathedral and the Washington Monument while also disrupting trains, flights and nuclear power plants.

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