Killer earthquake rocks Peru, Christians respond

By August 17, 2007

Peru (MNN) — The death toll is expected to rise in the aftermath of a killer earthquake the rocked Peru this week. The magnitude 7.9 earthquake, was centered off Peru's Pacific Coast near Ica, south of Lima.

Most of the reported dead were in the region near Ica, which is where emergency workers say was the hardest hit area.

Many people were killed in the rubble of their homes, and some 300 people were in a cathedral when it collapsed. Emergency workers said the overall death toll is expected to rise as workers pour through the rubble.

Ica was blacked out, as were smaller towns along the coast south of Lima. Rescue workers reported difficulty getting to Ica because of cracks in the highway and downed power lines. A cathedral in the hard-hit port city of Pisco was destroyed, according to local media reports, which said some 300 people were inside the structure during a mass at the time of the earthquake.

World Vision has work in Peru, says the organization's disaster operations specialist, Rose Kimeu. "We are supporting almost 20 development programs. And, we have about 20,000 children that we are supporting. The good news is that we received confirmation that all of our children are safe and that they're doing well."

However, Kimeu says they're concerned about many others who have been affected. "We that some people are still trapped. The roads are collapsed and it's still very hard to know what the real damage is."

World Vision, an international Christian humanitarian organization, is working with the government of Peru as needs are assessed. They have supply trucks loaded and ready to deliver clothes and other materials to keep warm those who have lost their homes. In the hours since the initial earthquake, more than 100 aftershocks have ensued, some measuring up to 6.3 on the Richter scale.

"The greatest needs right now are for blankets and warm clothing," said Yadira Pacheco, World Vision's communication manager in Peru. "It is winter season here."

"Hospitals are at capacity. It is important that people get medical supplies," Pacheco reports.

Kimeu says with World Vision already working on the ground, it gives them credibility. She says their testimony speaks loudly. "It is very reassuring for them, and they know that they're not forgotten them because [World Vision] comes and provides them with support. Through this support, they're able to see the love of God."

Funding is the biggest need right now. Click here to donate to World Vision's Peru Earthquake project.

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