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Peru Adds Troops in Quake-Hit Areas


Peru's government has deployed 1,000 more troops to help distribute aid and ensure calm in areas hit by an earthquake that killed at least 500 people. In Miami, VOA's Brian Wagner reports that damage from the quake continues to hamper relief efforts across central Peru.

Military officials ordered more troops into affected towns amid reports that shipments of relief supplies had been looted and that tensions were rising among displaced survivors. Residents and officials say relief aid has been slow to arrive in some areas, because of damage to roads and other infrastructure by the 8.0 magnitude quake that struck central Peru on Wednesday.

Several international aid groups have sent teams to assist in relief efforts. The Peru country director for CARE International, Milo Stanojevich, says his teams are focussing their efforts on the provinces of Ica and Huancavelica, where government supplies have been slow to arrive.

"There is an airlift, a military airport in Pisco, so most of the government aid has been going there. So we figured our best role is to work in communities that are more out of the way and where aid is not reaching," said Milo Stanojevich.

Stanojevich says his teams are working to provide water, blankets and flashlights to survivors, as well as tents for some of the 30,000 families left homeless in the quake.

He adds that tension has been rising in recent days because of concern over looting and possible violence, partly caused by reports that 600 prisoners had escaped after the quake destroyed a prison near the town of Chincha.

"Word is that the prisoners are looting. But I think it is a combination of things. People who are getting desperate for supplies, and other people are taking advantage of the situation," added Stanojevich.

The U.S. government has released $150,000 in emergency aid to Peru, and is providing two medical teams to assist victims of the quake.

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