A powerful earthquake measuring 7.9 magnitude which hit Peru's southern coast Wednesday evening has killed at least 450 people and injured 1,500 others, a senior UN official in charge of humanitarian affairs said on Thursday.
Quoting Peruvian authorities, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Margareta Wahlstrom told reporters that "so far 450 deaths counted, and injured about 1,500."
"We got that figure from the National Disaster Management Authority in Peru," she said, adding that the quake has also destroyed almost 400 houses and cut down power and communications in some areas.
Wahlstrom said the UN is dispatching a disaster assessment teamto the quake area and another UN search and rescue team is on standby if needed.
The world body has accumulated some US$1 million from several UN agencies to help the quake victims, she added.
Earlier, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the world body is in close contact with the government of Peru and "stands ready to support relief efforts with measures including the release of emergency funds and the deployment of a team of disaster assessment and coordination experts."
(Xinhua News Agency August 17, 2007)