Peru quake aftershocks rattle rescuers
Rescuers on Friday braved aftershocks to pull bodies from the rubble and search for survivors after Peru's most devastating earthquake in nearly four decades left around 500 dead.
Wednesday's mammoth earthquake wrought untold destruction especially along Peru's southern coast, which accounted for the greatest number of casualties.
One official estimate put the number of dead at around 500, although that figure was likely to climb sharply as rescuers continued to retrieve corpses from collapsed buildings.
"The toll has jumped to between 500 and 510 dead and 1,600 injured," the head of the country's firefighter service, Roberto Ocno, told AFP.
"There are dead trapped under houses," he said. "There are several bodies in the streets, people who may have died from heart attacks."
Civil defence authorities offered a somewhat lower toll, saying some 437 people had died and 829 had been injured.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) upgraded the quake to a are 8.0 on the Moment Magnitude scale, as the Peruvian government said helicopters and planes were airlifting emergency aid to the hard-hit coastal towns.
President Alan Garcia, while visiting the stricken area yesterday, declared three days of national mourning for the earthquake victims, closing all public buildings including schools, military bases and museums.
The powerful quake cut a path of devastation throughout southern Peru.Buildings collapsed, major highways to the coast were ripped apart asunder and power lines knocked out by the quake, leaving overwhelmed local officials issuing urgent appeals for help.
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