A powerful 8.0-magnitude earthquake toppled houses, blocked roads and knocked out power in parts of Peru on Sunday, killing one person and injuring at least 26 others as the shockwave extended into neighbouring Ecuador.
The quake hit in a sparsely populated region of Peru’s Amazon basin region but was felt over a wide area. In Lima and other cities, frightened residents rushed into the streets.
“There are many old houses that have collapsed after this strong earthquake,” said Hugo Araujo, the mayor of Yurimaguas, a town near the epicentre.
Peru’s civil defense coordinator Ricardo Seijas told RPP radio that a man was killed by falling debris in his house in Cajamarca.
Danilo Munoz, the 48-year-old victim, was asleep when the quake struck at 2:41am (0741 GMT).
Seijas said 11 people were injured in Peru, and more than 50 houses were left uninhabitable.
Reports said 15 people had been hurt in Ecuador.
The quake blocked roads, damaged a bridge and knocked down houses, said Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra, adding that it was the most powerful quake to hit the country in 12 years.
“It is an earthquake affecting the entire Peruvian jungle,” he said.
“We are working on establishing an air bridge to transport people who have an emergency,” he said.
The quake struck about 75km (45 miles) southeast of the town of Lagunas at a depth of at least 110km.
The US Geological Survey and Peruvian geophysicists said the quake registered 8.0 in magnitude. They said it lasted just over two minutes.
The mayor of Lagunas, Arri Pezo, said many residents who fled from their homes later stayed in the streets for fear of aftershocks.
“You could not walk at the time of the earthquake, things were falling,” Pezo told RPP. Power was knocked out, making it difficult to assess the damage, he said.
One of the most dramatic moments captured on social media happened in Yurimaguas. Video from the police station shows the police chief shouting at his subordinates to quickly open the jail cells and get inmates outside.
“The earthquake is strong!” he is heard yelling. “Open the cells! Help with the detainees, get one each!”
Power cuts in Ecuador
The shockwave of Sunday’s tremor also extended to neighboring Ecuador, where power cuts were reported in parts of its Amazon basin region.
Peruvian media said the tremor was also felt in parts of Colombia and Venezuela.
Peru lies on the so-called Ring of Fire – an arc of fault lines that circles the Pacific Basin and is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
The South American country records about 200 earthquakes a year, most of them going unnoticed by the public.
In February, a quake measuring 7.5 with its epicentre in Ecuador rattled the coast and Amazon region of northern Peru.
It left nine people injured and caused damage in Ecuador, but Peru was unscathed.