A magnitude-8.1 earthquake at 33 kilometers deep shook Peru on Saturday, June 23, says the USGSs National Earthquake Information Center, upping previous estimates that put the quake's magnitude at 7.9. The focus was just off the Peruvian coast, about 120 miles west of Arequipa, Peru's second largest city. Three major aftershocks followed ranging from magnitude 5.5 to 6.3.
Debris and collapsed homes killed at least 70 people, most in Arequipa, and over 30 people are missing from Camana, a nearby coastal town deluged by a quake-induced tsunami. A landslide blocked the main road into Moquegua, 60 miles from Arequipa, keeping emergency food and medicine from a town where 17 people were killed and 80 percent of the houses seriously damaged or flattened.
Stretched out against an active continental margin, Peru is no stranger to big quakes. The most memorable was the devastating magnitude-7.7 event in 1970 that killed approximately 70,000 people during an avalanche of rock and snow on Mount Huascarán, a little over 200 miles north of Lima.
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Emily D. Johnson