Amazing Facts about the 1970 Peru Earthquakes! You Should Know What Happened in Peru
1970 Ancash Earthquake
In 1970 the worst natural disaster in the history of Peru occurred. It was caused by the Ancash earthquake, named after the highland area where it occurred. A number of factors coincided to make the disaster a truly monstrous one. Peru is a country with a rather complex topography and, like its neighbor Chile, suffers from frequent earthquakes. But despite this, the country has not always been prepared for them. Just after the 1970 Peru earthquakes the authorities finally paid attention to the danger that threatened the population.
On May 31, 1970, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake occurred near Peru. The hypocenter was in the Peruvian-Chilean deep-water trench in the Pacific Ocean, 25 km east of Chimbote, a major Peruvian fishing port. The U.S. Center for Geological Research estimated that it could well be ranked as the most destructive and deadly earthquake in the Western Hemisphere. The cataclysm created a wave that almost completely destroyed the city of Chimbote, partially destroying the towns of Casma and Uramay, where many people also died. From the face of the earth disappeared the famous resort of Huaraz. The shock waves of the mainshock propagated in all directions for almost 1000 kilometers. In total, more than 250 settlements were affected.
The Chimbote Peru earthquake took the lives of over 100,000 people and left about 360,000 wounded (a large number of seriously injured). A total of approximately 3,000,000 people were affected, including the homeless. An eight-day mourning period was declared in Peru.
On top of all the misery, the earthquake, which reduced to rubble most of the buildings in the affected areas, triggered a gigantic landslide from Mount Huascarán, which dumped some 10 million cubic meters of water, mud, rocks (some of them the size of a house and weighing many tons). The latter rolled with great speed, tumbling and crashing like bullets into buildings, breaking them into small pieces. The avalanche aftermath was shocking: in Junga alone, 20,000 residents were buried alive.
The scale of the devastation left the Peruvian government in a state of shock. It was unable to coordinate the rescue services, nor to deal with the distribution of aid offered by more than 60 countries.