Earthquakes


I woke to a text message from a friend staying in Lima.

“Who felt the earthquake yesterday?” Lutie asked. “65 wounded and two killed. (It) was fucken scary. I woke up because of that.

“I might over-exaggerate but it’s like the first time I have felt it, and I am on the 15th floor so my imagination made me see how the building is going to bend and snap.

“But the tremor did really wake me up and my flat mate. You just see all the flats lights go on.”

But he had a sense of humour when I asked if I could quote him. “Yeah, you can say I was boning this girl and I thought I was so amazing, I thought I was rocking her world.”

Normally I wouldn’t have mentioned that last line except that the sense of humour is something that a friend from New Zealand also had. She lives in Arequipa. “Remember we Kiwis get earthquakes.

“It would take a bit more than what we had to get me out of bed,” she said.

Currently the church on the hill rings its bells loudly. I do not know if it is to recognise the death toll. Perhaps it rings only because it’s Sunday morning.

At 9.30am (local time) the Australian broadcaster ABC reported the earthquake was at 7.1 magnitude and hit at 4.18am in the southern Peruvian region of Arequipa.

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Authorities say the toll is likely to rise. People are missing after a mine collapsed.

This has made me realise how common earthquakes actually are in Peru which has quite a lengthy history of death tolls and injuries.

About two weeks ago I visited a mass graveyard in a small rural town called Yungay which continues to commemorate the 1970 Ancash earthquake.

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As we walked through rose gardens and passed relics from the time including a smashed hulk of a bus, someone said; “you are walking among 12,000 people.”

The magnitude of death on the ground I stood on affected me at that moment. Before that I thought it was a nice and calm place. A place I had paid to go to as some sort of tour.

We heard of stories of the features in the landscape.

We drove past an arena. 48 years ago a circus was performing. There were 300 children watching during the earthquake. Fortunately they were saved.

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