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Peru Hit by Another Aftershock as Relief Efforts Continue


Peruvian President Alan Garcia has vowed that an earthquake-ravaged region of coastal Peru will reach what he called "a situation approaching normality" within about 10 days.

The president made his remarks as residents of the towns of central coastal Peru such as Pisco and Ica struggled to clean up and recover bodies after Wednesday's magnitude-eight earthquake that killed at least 510 people, more than 200 kilometers southeast of the capital, Lima.

Some 1,500 people were injured in the earthquake, and thousands have been left homeless, in need of food and medical attention. Mobs in quake-stricken areas have looted pharmacies, markets and trucks carrying emergency supplies.

President Garcia issued an appeal for calm on Friday. He says he understands people's desperation but promised no one would die of hunger or thirst.

Rescue workers are still combing through the ruins of buildings, looking for victims. Bodies are being laid out in rows on the ground for friends and family to identify.

News reports say the cemeteries of Pisco are crowded with new graves as families bury their dead.

Offers of assistance are flowing in from the United States, several Latin American nations, the International Red Cross, Europe and the United Nations.

U.S. President George Bush sent his condolences to the Peruvian people. U.S. officials are also sending $100,000 in immediate emergency aid and deploying disaster response personnel to Peru.

The Pentagon says two senior U.S. defense officials are headed to Peru to assess aid the U.S. military might be able to offer the quake victims.

Earlier, the U.S. military announced that a medical surgical team based in Honduras will go to Peru to offer assistance. The 30-person U.S. team will include a general surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurses and medical technicians.

The U.S. military's hospital ship Comfort recently visited Peru as part of a humanitarian tour, and is now berthed at Manta, Ecuador. Pentagon officials say the vessel could return to Peru quickly if authorities there request such assistance.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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