Peru hit by 7.0 magnitude quake

A powerful magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck off Peru's southern coast Wednesday, triggering panic across several cities though there were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries, authorities said.

The quake, the largest of about 140 registered seismic events so far this year in Peru, was felt with varying intensity in at least eight departments in the south and midwest.

It hit at 11:42 am (1642 GMT), with its epicenter 46 kilometers (29 miles) south of the town of Acari off the Pacific Ocean at a depth of 46 kilometers, according to the US Geological Survey.

The earthquake did not generate a tsunami, Alberto Bisbal of the Civil Defense Institute told RPP radio.

Preliminary information indicated that some adobe houses in the area may have partially collapsed, he added.

Landslides were reported on the slopes of the Nevado Chachani volcano near the city of Arequipa, and other landslides blocked some roads in towns near the epicenter, the highway patrol said.

In Arequipa and neighboring Moquegua, villagers quickly returned to the streets and secure areas such as parks, according to radio reports.

About 500 kilometers (300 miles) away in the capital Lima, the temblor was especially felt in skyscrapers, causing the evacuation of many people from tall buildings.

Earthquakes are frequent in Peru, located in the Pacific Ocean's "Ring of Fire," which records about 80 percent of all global seismic activity.