Latin America & Caribbean

Peru quake kills at least nine in southern Arequipa

House damaged by earthquake in Arequipa region Image copyright EPA
Image caption Dozens of houses have been damaged by the earthquake

A 5.4-magnitude earthquake in southern Peru has killed at least nine people, including an American tourist.

Emergency workers are on their way to the affected area to search for survivors and provide mobile shelters.

Officials said Sunday's quake had destroyed at least 80 homes in the Arequipa region.

Earthquakes are common in Peru. In 2007, almost 600 people died when an 8.0-magnitude quake hit the central coast area.

The quake struck at 21:58 local time (02:58GMT) at a depth of 10km (6.2 miles), according to the US Geological Survey.

Its epicentre was 7km west of the town of Chivay, the USGS said.

The worst affected districts are Ichupampa, Yanque, Achoma and Maca.

At least 40 people are reported to have been injured.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Some houses were ripped open by the quake

A local mayor told Peruvian media that "the quake was felt very strongly... we have lost contact with nearby villages and are asking for heavy machinery".

Arequipa Governor Yamila Osorio said she would travel to the affected area.

The region was already suffering from freezing temperatures.

Hours before the quake, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski had visited the area to assess the damage caused by the cold snap.

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