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7.9 quake rumbles coastal Peru



By Natalia Tarnawieski
Reporter

LIMA, Peru (CNN) -- An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 shook the southern region of Peru Saturday afternoon, leaving at least eight people dead and dozens injured, officials said.

Geophysicist Brian Lassige at the National Earthquake Center in Golden, Colorado, said the quake was centered about 120 miles west of the city of Arequipa on the coast, about 500 miles southeast of Lima.

"This level of quake is considered a major earthquake," he said.

Red Cross officials said the two killed were in Arequipa, where at least 55 people were injured as well. Five people were injured closer to Lima, where the vibrations from the quake were felt. They also stretched to the southern border with Chile.

Aftershocks were continuing after the initial quake, which occurred around 3:35 p.m. local time (4:30 p.m. ET).

The tower of an ancient church in the center of Arequipa crumbled in the temblor, and officials said thousands of people fled their homes in panic when they felt the rumbling, which lasted for more than one minute.

Prevention units from Arequipa's fire department were in the streets trying to calm residents and assess the damage.






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