Damaged highways, towns in rubbles and thousands of hungry survivors was the scene Friday morning when aid finally reached the disaster zone in Peru.
Victims of Wednesday’s magnitude-8.0 quake had to survive on their own for 36 hours before food, water, tents and blankets were delivered, according to The Associated Press.
“Nobody is going to die of hunger or thirst,” assured Peruvian President Alan Garcia Friday, after receiving complaints that aid was not arriving fast enough, according to AP.
“I understand your desperation, your anxiety and some are taking advantage of the circumstances to take the property of others, take things from stores, thinking they’re not going to receive help,” Garcia said. “There is no reason to fall into exaggerated desperation knowing that the state is present.”
Since the devastating quake hit the southern coast of Peru Wednesday evening, at least 510 deaths and some 1,500 injuries have been reported. The few hospitals in Peru’s southern desert region are said to be overflowing and the only highway on the coast of Peru was severely damaged, hampering aid transportation
Moreover, electricity, water and phone services were down in most of southern Peru.
In response to the disaster, the Peruvian military as well as Christian relief groups are organizing their forces to go into the disaster zone.
World Vision has dispatched 200 blankets, 500 pieces of warm clothing, 10 stoves, and medicine to survivors in affected areas, the international humanitarian organization reported Friday.
In addition, WV sent three assessment teams from its office in Peru to the worst-affected Ica region, which includes the towns of Pisco, Chincha, and Canete.
Staff members confirmed the biggest operational challenges are the damages to roads and downed telephone communications.
On Thursday, members of Action by Churches Together (ACT) in Peru – the Center for Studies and Disaster Prevention (PREDES), the Evangelical Lutheran Association for Aid to Community Development (DIACONIA), and Lutheran World Relief (LWR)’s Andean Regional Office – held an emergency meeting and decided that PREDES and DIACONIA would send two assessment teams on Friday and Saturday to evaluate the damage and needs in less accessible, vulnerable and poor rural areas.
Catholic Relief Services field staff are also identifying critical needs and coordinating delivery of supplies.
The Peruvian military has begun to clear rubble while house ministry officials have started to assess survivors who need new homes by mid-morning Friday, according to AP.
The magnitude-8.0 quake on Wednesday is said to be Peru’s worst earthquake in more than 30 years.