Powerful Earthquake Strikes Miles Below Amazon Rainforest in Peru, Limiting Casualties

The corner of a building was destroyed by an earthquake in Yurimaguas, Peru, Sunday, May 26, 2019. A powerful magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck this remote part of the Amazon jungle in Peru early Sunday, collapsing buildings and knocking out power to some areas.
Photo: Guadalupe Pardo / AP

An 8.0 magnitude earthquake rocked northern Peru on Sunday, killing at least one man and causing several injuries, the Associated Press reports.

The earthquake, which struck in the early hours of the morning, was centered on a remote area of the Amazon jungle, the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, a vast forest bordered by the Marañón and Ucayali rivers, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.


Loss of life was likely minimized by the earthquake’s location, but also its depth, officials said. The epicenter was approximately 70 miles below the Earth’s surface. Nevertheless, the seismic movement was felt as far north as Venezuela, according to reports. Emergency officials in Ecuador on Sunday warned of potential landslides resulting from the event.

El Peruano, the country’s oldest newspaper, reported a second death caused by earthquake on Monday. As many 15 people are injured and 284 families are affected, according to the paper.

The banks of the Huallaga River are cracked after an earthquake in Puerto Santa Gema, on the outskirts of Yurimaguas, Peru, Sunday, May 26, 2019.
Photo: Guadalupe Pardo / AP

Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra traveled to Yurimaguas, a small town roughly 57 miles west of the epicenter, to survey the damage. Multiple buildings collapsed and power was knocked out in some areas.


The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is comprised of over two-million hectares of rainforest and wetlands. A várzea forest, the region is largely inaccessible between December and March when its floodplain absorbs enormous discharge from the adjacent rivers. The Marañón river to the north is considered the Amazon river’s primary source.

The earthquake was the most powerful to hit the region since 2007, when an 8.0 magnitude event struck the cities of Pisco and Ica, among others, killing over 500 people and injuring more than 1,300.


The most powerful recorded earthquake in the country’s history, a magnitude 9, struck in 1868. A deadly tsunami resulted, causing an estimated 25,000 casualties. The rusted remains of the Wateree, an American gunboat launched during the American Civil War, can still be viewed on beach in the port city of Arica, now part of Chile, in the same spot it washed up during the disaster.

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