Friday, August 17, 2007

If disaster knocked on your door, would YOU know what to do?

Recently, on August 15th, at 23:40 GMT, a 7.9 Richter-scale degrees earthquake shook the pacific coast of Peru during 120 seconds, leaving more than 510 people dead, more than 1,100 people with severe injuries, and a grand total of 85,000 people affected by the earthquake and 17,000 destroyed houses.

Hunger. Risk of epidemics. Homeless. Lack of communication. Blocked highways.

Chaos.


This has been the strongest and most damaging earthquake in Peru in the last 50 years, and is being currently considered among the top 10 most destructive earthquakes globally since 1990. There have been over 350 earthquake replicas ever since. Among the most recent ones, we have registered one of 5.1 Richter scale degrees on August 16th, at 03:29 GMT. This morning, another 5.5 degrees replica shook us. Earth is still shaking, and it is expected to remain this way over the next week.

Lima, the capital city, has also been affected, but not as much as Pisco city, Ica city, Chincha city, among others. Some old abandoned houses in Lima collapsed, specially in the oldest districts and parts of the city, such as Rimac, and Lima Downtown.

One of the moments of major tension amongst the population was when a possible Tsunami alert in the Pacific coast was brought up. Such warning lasted 3 hours, and people started to be evacuated when the ocean started withdrawing 10 meters away from the coast.

Some places have been reported as flooded ever since. Fortunately, later on the night of the 15th, such warning was dismissed.

The epicenter was located near Pisco city, This city has been devastated in 70% to 80%. As a result, health system there has completely collapsed. There are not enough doctors, nor firefighters there to help. Also, because most of the houses were destroyed, people were left homeless, with nothing but what they had on themselves.

They currently lack water, electricity, food, warm clothes, shelter, medicine. National and international help has started arriving, but it's still not enough. Several countries have already sent technical assistance as well as aid resources, including Colombia, Equator, Argentina, Panama, Chile, Bolivia, Spain and France. International aid also involves UN, IDB, among others.

Many people have disappeared, and most of them are presumed to be under the shattered houses. Earthquake had such impact on the city because houses were not make of brick, but of a certain type of clay which is not resistant. Up to now, only 3 people have been found alive under the debris of buildings.

Sadly, many people have passed away at home, as the roofs and walls fell on them. In one location, people were participating in a mass, and the church collapsed on them due to the earthquake. As corpses are being rescued, they are collected in the city main square. Health authorities have already warned of a possible epidemic outburst due to corpses decomposition and are coordinating their removal ASAP.

Communications are still down in the emergency zone, and were not functioning in Lima in the night of the disaster for more than 2 hours: Mobiles, and landlines were down, except for the internet connection. Some highways have been destroyed, and are now officially closed.

AIESEC only has presence in Lima and in Arequipa city, but not in the emergency zone. Therefore, every AIESECer is expected to be okay.

I understand countries across the globe will be also encouraging people to make donations, so to everyone who is willing to share, contact your local authorities, or contact the
Peruvian Embassy in your country. Please, take action. Now.

I'm currently updating in my web log (however it is in Spanish - I'll try to at least include some brief comments in English). You may find it at: http://yacolca.nomadlife.org

You may also follow recent updates (in Spanish) on the situation at El Comercio Peru.

Davo - AIESEC alumnus





2 comments:

White-Hope said...

Davo,

Firstly,I'm glad to know you and your loved ones are safe.It certainly is a desperate situation.

Have hope...God Will Make a Way!

JillO said...

From Piero:

Hey people!!
I would like to inform you that my family and I were ok.
The earthquake that PERU suffered on last wednesday and the small earthquakes that we are still suffering fortunately are not causing damage in Lima.

Unfortunately, there has been reported almost 500 deads as a result of the earthquake in the whole country.

Different situation is going in other cities south of Lima.

I will let you know more updates in the coming days.
Regards,
Piero Cabrera