¨Huaraz could suffer an earthquake magnitude 8 on the Richter scale¨

T he head of the Civil Defence of Huaraz, David Paredes, issued a grave warning last week that it was possible that Huaraz could suffer an earthquake of more than 8 on the Richter scale. He insists that accordingly the population should take reasonable precautions and carry out safety drills regarding earthquakes.

His warning comes after the 14th September, when seven smaller earthquakes that were detected just off the coast of Lima. The Geographical Institute of Peru recorded seven seismic activities in the early hours of the morning with epicentres in or around Matucana. Though the first began at 3.19am and the last at 4.53am, many Peruvians expressed their concern on social media. The strongest of the trembling reached 4.8 on the Richter scale.

Paredes sees this as a sign that as earthquake could hit Ancash itself; “Huaraz itself sits on a deep seismic zone that could be activated again just like happened in the past. The current seismic silence from Chimbote to the city of Ica could well generate a quake with a strength surpassing 8 on the Richter scale.” he stated.

The 1970 Ancash Earthquake was the most devastating earthquake in Peru to date. An initial shock of magnitude 7.9 resulted in disastrous landslides mixed with snow and ice that subsumed and desecrated many towns in the area, including Huaraz, Caraz and Aija. An avalanche from the northern part of the great Mount Huascarán then sent a sliding mass of ice and rock into the towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca, completely burying them. With the flooding, landslides and avalanche combined, it is estimated that almost 70,000 people lost their lives.

Paredes is now pushing for workshops and distribution of information with a campaign entitled “Prepárate Huaraz (Huaraz prepare yourself)” encouraging the public to pack a emergency backpack, know the safe zones of their homes and evacuation routes in face of an earthquake that could then cause flooding and landslides. He considers the most vulnerable time to be in the early hours.

 “We must be serious and learn so that we can avoid the deaths of previous years”, emphasised Paredes

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