Powerful Earthquake Rocks Peru

June 23, 2001 -- A powerful earthquake lasting more than a minute rocked southern Peru and Chile on Saturday killing at least 12 people and collapsing dozens of homes, the Peru's Geophysical Institute said.

At least three people were injured in northern Chile. The quake was also felt in Bolivia.

Images broadcast by Canal N from the Peruvian city of Arequipa showed parts of a historic building crumbled in the central square, and said two people had died. Arequipa is 750 kilometers (465 miles) southeast of Lima, the capital.

Peru's Civil Defense Chief Juan Luis Podesta told radio Radioprogramas that no deaths had been confirmed but that dozens of adobe homes in Arequipa and the southern city of Tacna, near the border with Chile, were destroyed.

He said in one neighborhood of Arequipa, alone, 47 houses had fallen.

There were conflicting reports on the quake's magnitude.

The U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado, said a 7.9-magnitude quake was registered off the coast of Peru in the Pacific Ocean.

The Peruvian Geophysical Institute said the quake registered a preliminary magnitude of 6.

Radio reports said firefighters in Arequipa were attending to "emergencies" and that the main hospital there was attending to "minor injuries."

At least five aftershocks were reported.

In Chile the most affected city was Arica, 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) north of Santiago, the capital.

The Emergency Office spokeswoman, Carmen Fernandez, said some houses sustained some damage there, and electricity and telephone services were interrupted.

Arica Major Carlos Valcarce said three people were injured, including a woman who suffered a broken leg when part of collapsing wall fell onto her.

Regional governor Sonia Castillo said "there are no indications" that a tsunami may occur after the earthquake.