After the relatively strong earthquake that hit south of Lima last week and collapsed a church roof, the news programmes are talking about whether the city, and Peru in general, is ready for another big earthquake.
Peru and the pacific coast have been devastated by earthquakes in the past, my blog’s travel entries are littered by references of earthquakes that destroyed this town or that town. Often tens of thousands die. The last of these mega earthquakes happened in the 1960s and 1970s where the town of Yungay was wiped of the map. You can also read of accounts of earthquakes from my trip to Chile.
These earthquakes are supposed to happen every decade or so – horrendously often, but this is how it has to be, the tension needs to be released from the colliding tectonic plates. The problem is though that no such terrible devastating earthquake has happened since those mentioned above and as a result decades of tension has built up and is long overdue a release. Coupled with this the fact that the population of Lima, and the country, has swelled since then, and many of these people live in poor quality unsafe housing or areas of history non-quake-proof buildings. This terrifies me because I am not talking about potential deaths in the thousands or tens of thousands – there are tens of millions of people living in unsafe buildings across the country. Peru has the unenviable potential of witnessing the worst natural disaster in human history.