|A magnitude 6.9 earthquake has struck off the coast of southern Peru, panicking residents and shaking buildings, but there were no immediate reports of major damages or injuries.|
The US Geological Survey said on Friday the quake was centered 51km southwest of Ica, a provincial capital of about 200,00 people that suffered widespread damage in the 2007 quake. People who had lost loved ones and homes in the earlier quake were badly shaken and some broke into tears.
"It felt like the one in 2007 because it was very strong,'' Felix Sihuas told local RPP radio. He said he was buried under rubble for six hours in the August 15, 2007, quake, which killed 596 people and largely destroyed the town of
Friday's quake was considerably less violent. In Lima, a city of 8.5 million people, structures shook for about 30 seconds in a series of moderate, swaying movements.
RPP radio reported that people in cities along the southern coast ran out of their homes and into the streets during the shaking.
"There was panic, a lot of panic,'' said Ruben Vargas, a police official in Ica.
Vargas said that many people were still in the streets nearly a half hour after the 1:54pm (18:54 GMT) quake. "Little by little people are calming down but they're still outside their homes,'' he added.
RPP said damages were limited to a loss of cellphone signals, isolated electricity outages in Ica, and a secondary
road that was blocked by debris.
No tsunami warnings were issued for the Pacific coast and business quickly returned to normal in Lima, 300km north of Ica.
In Pisco, police officer Julio Lopez said people were frightened though the quake was not nearly as bad as the 2007 temblor.
"It wasn't like the last time. It was shorter,'' said Jorge Luis Yupanqui, 30, from Pisco. "Some people started to cry.''
He said there was a big traffic jam in Pisco because he, like many others, went home to make sure his family and home were safe.
About 40,000 homes were destroyed in the 2007 quake and the previous government of President Alan Garcia was widely criticised for the slow pace of reconstruction.