Save the Children Responds to Deadly Earthquake in Peru

Save the Children is rapidly responding to a developing humanitarian crisis brought on by a large earthquake that struck off the southern coast of Peru on Wednesday evening.

The agency has sent a team to the area to conduct rapid assessments of the needs of children and their families, and to provide lifesaving relief.

"Many families have been forced from their homes and out into the open," said Rudy Von Bernuth, who heads Save the Children's emergency response operations. "Save the Children is moving quickly to ensure that children, who are among the most vulnerable in any natural disaster, are protected and their families have the means survive this crisis."

The 8.0-magnitude quake struck at 6:40 p.m. local time Wednesday with an epicenter about 90 miles southeast of the capital, Lima. It was followed by two large aftershocks of magnitude 6 and 6.3, respectively.

According to the Peruvian Civil Defense Institute, the worst damage occurred in the provinces of CaƱete, Pisco and Chincha. The death toll stands at 450 and continues to rise, while hundreds have been injured and over 80,000 displaced.

The large cities of Ica and Pisco were hit particularly hard — public buildings and homes have collapsed. Government sources report that destruction is widespread in the major city of Ica, capital of the province of the same name. Communications systems and have been disrupted, and a major highway to the area has been damaged, hindering rescue efforts.

In addition, schools have been closed, and teachers have been asked to check the status of classrooms and school buildings. Save the Children also will work with the government to ensure that children's education is not disrupted.

"We know from working in disasters around the world that children's recovery depends not only on meeting their physical needs — food, clean water and shelter — but also on repairing the social structure of their lives, including education," said Von Bernuth.

Peru is located on the seismically volatile "Pacific Ring of Fire." The nation has experienced severe earthquakes in recent decades, including a 1970 temblor that killed 50,000 people in the city of Yungay.

Donate now to support Save the Children's response to the earthquake in Peru.

Image Caption: People prepare to spend the night outside their homes in Lima's port of Callao, after an earthquake struck Peru, August 15, 2007. Reuters/Enrique Castro Mendivil, courtesy alertnet.org

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