At least 337 Killed In Strong Quake That Hits Peru's Coast; Rescuers Struggle To Reach Victims

The 7.9 earthquake that hit Peru Wednesday night touched off the fire seen here in Lima, Aug. 15, 2007. (AP/Agencia Andina/H. Vinces)

At least 337 killed in strong quake that hits Peru's coast; rescuers struggle to reach victims

Associated Press Writer

CHINCHA, Peru (AP) - At least 337 people were killed by a powerful 7.9-magnitude earthquake that shook Peru's coast, toppling buildings, shattering roads and injuring more than 827 others, officials said Thursday.

Rescue workers struggled to reach the center of the devastation, the port city of Pisco about 125 miles southeast of the capital, Lima. Pisco's mayor said at least 200 people were buried in the rubble of a church where they had been attending a service.

"The dead are scattered by the dozens on the streets," Mayor Juan Mendoza told Lima radio station CPN.

"We don't have lights, water, communications. Most houses have fallen, churches, stores, hotels, everything is destroyed," he said, sobbing.

An AP Television News cameraman who reached the city of Chincha, about 100 miles southeast of Lima, said he counted 30 bodies under bloody sheets on the floor of the hospital, which was badly damaged.

Another church collapsed Wednesday evening in the city of Ica, 165 miles south of Lima, killing 17, according to cable news station Canal N.

The government rushed police, soldiers, doctors and aid to the stricken areas along the coast south of the capital but hundreds of vehicles were paralyzed on the Pan American Highway by giant cracks in the pavement and fallen power lines, the AP Television News cameraman reported from Chincha.

Giorgio Ferrario, head of the Peruvian International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, said that he expects the death toll to rise now that rescue teams are working in daylight.

Ferrario said teams from the Peruvian Red Cross arrived in Ica and Pisco after 7½ hours, about three times as long as it would normally have taken because the earthquake had destroyed the roads to these areas.

AP Writer Monte Hayes reported from Lima, Peru.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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