Earthquake in Peru killed four people

A powerful 7.5-magnitude earthquake in northern Peru killed at least four people person, destroyed several hundred homes and disrupted electricity and telephone service in much of the region, Peru's civil defense agency said.

The earthquake was felt throughout Peru's northern coast and as far away as Bogota, Colombia, about 760 miles (1,220 kilometers) northeast of the earthquake zone.

Peru's Geophysics Institute said the quake struck around 9 p.m. Sunday and was centered northeast of the jungle city of Moyobamba, 670 kilometers (415 miles) north of the capital, Lima. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 7.5, considered a major earthquake. Earlier Monday, civil defense officials said two people had died: a 35-year-old man in Lamas, a village near Moyobamba hard hit by the quake, and a 65-year-old woman in the Department of Libertad, southwest of the earthquake zone. Later, the Civil Defense Institute reported that the bodies of an 8-year-old boy and an 80-year-old woman also had been discovered in Lamas.

Local media reported that the victims were killed by collapsed walls and falling debris. Fifty-nine people were injured, five of them seriously, and 377 homes were destroyed, according to a report posted on the Civil Defense Institute's Web site. President Alejandro Toledo flew to the quake region Monday afternoon to inspect the damage and deliver cots, blankets, drinking water and 4,800 food rations.

The earthquake was also felt strongly in Ecuador, causing windows to shatter in several southern towns. A dilapidated house collapsed in Yantzasa, 380 kilometers (235 miles) northwest of Lamas, the Red Cross in Ecuador said, but no deaths or serious injuries were reported.

Electrical power was temporarily lost in Peru's northern coastal city of Chiclayo, 660 kilometers (410 miles) northwest of Lima. Airline Lan Peru reported that a passenger jet aborted its landing at the Chiclayo airport because there were no lights on the runway. The plane flew directly to Lima.

It was one of the strongest earthquakes in Peru since a devastating 8.1-magitude temblor hit the Arequipa province in southern Peru in June 2001, killing at least 75 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless. A magnitude-7.6 aftershock struck the southern Andes on July 7, 2001, but did not cause injuries or serious damage, AP reports.

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