Desperate search as Peru quake toll passes 500 | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 18, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 18, 2007

Desperate search as Peru quake toll passes 500

Aftershocks rattled rescuers as they clawed through rubble yesterday in a desperate search for survivors of the Peruvian earthquake that claimed at least 500 lives.
With unidentified bodies still lining the streets of Pisco and other towns in the zone worst hit from the 8.0 magnitude quake, Peruvian authorities launched an international appeal for help to back their own relief operation.
At least 300 people were said to have died in Pisco alone as Wednesday's quake brought a church collapsed down on hundreds of mourners at a funeral service and destroyed scores of other buildings in the port city.
President Alan Garcia, who declared three days of national mourning, was besieged by dozens of inhabitants begging for help as he toured Pisco.
"Mr. President, we need coffins!" cried one resident as Garcia reached a square where 50 bodies were waiting to be identified. Some inhabitants berated rescuers for not working fast enough.
Another 50 corpses were lined on the ground outside the San Clemente church, which collapsed during a funeral mass packed with mourners. Many dead were still believed to be under the rubble but six survivors were dragged out Thursday.
Only the front wall and two bell towers were left standing.
Already shredded nerves were kept in a state of constant anxiety as more than 300 aftershocks, some as powerful as 6.3 on the Moment Magnitude scale, shook Peru after the main earthquake. The aftershocks were expected to last several days.
"We have hundreds of dead lying in the streets, and injured people in the hospital. It is totally indescribable," said Juan Mendoza, the mayor of Pisco.
"Seventy percent of the town is devastated. We don't have water, no communications, the houses are collapsed, the churches are destroyed," he said, adding his town of 130,000 needed urgent medical help.

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