I was sitting at my desk this afternoon when my computer monitor started shaking. Soon, the floor was rumbling, and a look outside the window revealed the high rise I work in to be swaying ever-so-slightly from side to side. Me and my coworkers — all of whom are from places where the earth stands solidly and predictability still — looked at one another with growing alarm. And then, just seconds later, it was all over.
Sure enough, what we felt was an earthquake — a mild one, according to news reports. What originated as a powerful 6.8-magnitude quake deep in the Amazon rain forest was a mere quiver by the time it hit Lima, hundreds of miles to the west. But mild or not, the quake was strong enough to send tremors of fear deep into this Midwestern boy’s heart.
You see, I’ve never experienced a “real” earthquake until today. The two other tremors I’ve felt since moving here were so minor as to be barely perceptible. Even today’s was nothing to get all hysterical about. But along with the quake that rattled the east coast yesterday, I think this marks as good of an occasion as any to discuss the earthquake situation in my adopted country.
Peru sits on a jumble of fault lines, making it possibly the world’s most seismically active country. The capital, Lima, my home, has a long history of being annihilated by earth tremors. And just recently in 2007, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake destroyed most of Pisco, a city of over 100,000 to Lima’s immediate south, killing over 500 people.
So, in other, words, the earthquake situation in this country is not good.
Hopefully, I’ll come home from this battle-hardened, ready to dismiss minor tremors just like Californians scoffed at the D.C.-area earthquake yesterday. But I doubt that. Earthquakes are simply too scary. The earth is moving under your feet, for goodness sake.
Read the account of this afternoon’s earthquake below, from the Associated Press:
LIMA, Peru (AP) — A strong but deep earthquake shook a sparsely populated northern jungle region on Wednesday and was felt mildly in the capital. There were no reports of damage or injuries.
The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 and was centered 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of the jungle city of Pucallpa, near the border with Brazil, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The quake occurred at 12:46 p.m. local time (1:46 p.m. EDT; 1746 GMT), and occurred 90 miles (145 kilometers) underground, the agency said. The deeper the quake, the less it is likely to cause damage.