Peru Mobilizes Air Command after Arequipa Earthquake

The Peruvian Ministry of Defense activated an Air Operations Command to respond to the emergency.
Peter Watson, | 24 January 2018

Rapid Response

C-27J Spartan airplanes carry humanitarian aid to Arequipa, Peru. (Photo: Peruvian Ministry of Defense)

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake shook the Arequipa region of southern Peru, upon which the Peruvian Ministry of Defense activated an Air Operations Command, consisting initially of three C-27J Spartan transport planes and four helicopters to transport humanitarian aid. An attack helicopter also carried out air reconnaissance.

The earthquake took place on January 14th, at 4:18:42 a.m., its epicenter located 56 kilometers south of Lomas, Arequipa, at a depth of 48 kilometers. As of January 17th, two deaths were reported. There were multiple aftershocks of lesser magnitude.

Peruvian Prime Minister Mercedes Aráoz, along with new Minister of Defense, Jorge Kisic, initially coordinated the response from the National Emergency Operations Center (COEN, in Spanish) in Lima. President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski visited the area to survey the earthquake damage.

Response campaign

In addition, the Southern Operational Command, a unit of the Peruvian Armed Forces Joint Command in charge of the Arequipa region, put eight Rapid Disaster Intervention Companies on alert. A total of 960 service members will join the response campaign to support the affected civil population, concentrated mainly in the Bella Unión district in Caravelí province.

The Peruvian National Civil Defense Institute (INDECI, in Spanish) supplied tarps, mattresses, and beds to the areas most affected. Minister Kisic; Arequipa Governor Yamila Osorio; Joint Command chief, Admiral Luis Paredes Lora; Interior Minister Vincente Romero; and INDECI chief, Brigadier General Jorge Chávez Cresta, along with other authorities, accompanied the humanitarian aid.

On site, Minister Kisic stated that water distribution channels, as well as damaged roads, were being opened. The Highway Patrol confirmed clearance of the Panamericana Sur highway, although cracks were found in the Yuca bridge, at kilometer 573. Rock slides at kilometers 572, 600, 745, and 755 also affected the important highway. Several schools were damaged in the Ayacucho, Ica, and Arequipa regions. The Ministry of Education assigned funds available for preventive maintenance.

On January 15th, INDECI sent a second shipment of materials to Arequipa, consisting of 100 tarps, 400 beds, 400 mattresses, and 4,000 rations of food. Shipment on the previous day included 100 tarps, 500 beds, 500 mattresses, and 200 blankets.

INDECI sent a field hospital with 10 doctors to the Chala area. Two mobile health units currently move throughout the Bella Unión and Yauca areas. The Peruvian Navy deployed a marine patrol to the area, and has an LST amphibious landing vessel ready to deploy to the Arequipa coast. As of the morning of January 14th, 780 families had been affected, 168 of them severely.

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