17 August 2007
As a result of the earthquake (MW 8.0) that struck off the coast of Peru on August 15, and several aftershocks, reports indicate that more than 80,000 people have been affected. There have been 446 confirmed deaths and over 1,000 injured, and at least 16,997 homes destroyed. Four heath facilities are reported destroyed, one hospital in Pisco, near the epicenter and 3 health centers in the province of Castrovirreyna, which is one of the poorest zones in Peru.
Several walls of the emergency and surgical rooms collapsed in the ministry of health hospital in Pisco. The most important regional hospital in Ica and the main hospital in Chincha could only partially operate due to functional collapse* of basic services. Seven specialized hospitals in Lima also presented physical damage, especially in walls, prompting the evacuation of some services.
Ministry of Health officials began home-to-home visits in the city of Pisco in order to identify any injured persons that have not reached health services and to provide recommendations for the prevention of communicable diseases (mainly acute respiratory infections and diarrhea) in the event of a collapse of the water and sewage systems.
It is still difficult to reach several localities in the affected areas due to extensive damage to the main highway that connects the capital of Peru with the affected zone, as well as many other secondary roads. An air bridge between Lima and Pisco is facilitating the humanitarian aid transportation as well as medical evacuation of severe injured patients.
Two PAHO/WHO disaster management experts arrived yesterday to support Peruvian efforts and joined interagency assessment teams. An additional ten experts on humanitarian supplies management, public information, health services, post-disaster assessment among others have been deployed and will arrive in the next 12 to 48 hours.
The National Civil Defense with the cooperation of PAHO/WHO is setting up Logistic Support Systems (SUMA/LSS) in Lima and Pisco to ensure rapid inventory, classification and distribution of urgent humanitarian supplies to the affected population.
* When a hospital is overwhelmed due to a disaster and is not able to operate at a normal basis.
Regional Office of the World Health Organization