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Four Killed as Heavy Waves Flood Port Following Earthquake in Peru

February 22, 1996

LIMA, Peru (AP) _ Searchers were looking off the north coast of Peru for fishermen who may have been swept away by high seas following an undersea earthquake that killed four people.

The Wednesday morning quake spawned tumultuous seas that claimed the lives of four fishermen in Chimbote, 225 miles northwest of Lima. The 10- to 15-foot waves also burst through the walls of two fish-processing plants, flooding 50 homes in a shantytown in the city.

Although officials in Chimbote initially said a tidal wave had hit, a spokesman for the Peruvian Geophysics Institute in Lima said the waves were not that large.

The waves carted away furniture and personal belongings from the houses, leaving about 80 people left homeless, according to Chimbote firefighter Miguel Milla Bravo.

Port captain William Mertz said the water flooded inland more than 600 feet and then swept back out to sea.

The earthquake occurred at 7:51 a.m. off the Pacific coast, about 130 miles southwest of Chimbote, the Geophysics Institute said. Institute seismologists measured the quake’s magnitude at 5.7.

U.S. Geological Survey seismographs recorded it at 6.7 and placed its epicenter about 90 miles southwest of Chimbote, a city of 300,000.

The Civil Defense Institute said the quake was felt in Chimbote and in the mountain city of Huaraz, 175 miles north of Lima.

Seismologists in Peru had no explanation for the discrepancy in the readings.

An earthquake of magnitude 6 is capable of causing severe damage to a populated area.

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