More than ten thousand people have died and at least 15,500 missing after an earthquake struck in Peru on Wednesday.
The quake struck a region where some 4,000 people were evacuated to the capital Lima, where authorities said they had evacuated more than 100,000 residents.
More than 3,000 buildings collapsed and more than 2,000 homes were damaged in the earthquake.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene said the death toll is likely to rise.
“The number of people who have died is likely more than 5,000,” said the AP reporter, Alejandro Gómez.
“It is unclear whether this number will rise further as rescue teams continue to search for survivors.
The dead were all men and women aged between 50 and 80, according to emergency authorities.
They include at least four children, according the local newspaper La Nación.
The U.N. has confirmed that some 3,300 people have been killed.
“There were many that we have not found yet.” “
They were trapped in the rubble,” Interior Minister Luis Salazar said.
“There were many that we have not found yet.”
The quake, the strongest in decades, hit about 9:15 a.m.
ET (2:15 p.m., 2:15 GMT) and was felt across the region.
The capital, Lima, was completely destroyed, with residents told to leave the city immediately.
People are still trying to get to safety as a huge cordon remains in place around the capital.
A huge cauca de los pescas in Lima, Peru, on Wednesday, December 6, 2017.
An emergency is in place in Lima as a result of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, the ministry said.
It said that the quake was felt in the city of Lima and nearby areas.
“I feel like I’m in a dream, I don’t know how I got here,” said Maria Guadalupe Lopez, a resident of a nearby apartment building.
“You hear a big earthquake, you don’t have time to think.
I can’t remember anything from last night.
I’ve seen everything and I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Residents told local TV station TVE that some buildings had collapsed, while others were “completely destroyed.”
“This earthquake will be the biggest in the history of Peru,” said Mayor Eduardo Garcia.
“This is a big tragedy for Lima, for the whole country.”
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake occurred at a depth of 8 kilometers (5.4 miles).
“I am a little scared, because I am afraid that we are losing so much, we are going to lose so many people,” a resident, who did not want to be named, told the Associated Press.
The earthquake struck at a time when Peru is in the midst of a drought, with an estimated 1.5 million people lacking water, according in a recent report by the World Food Program.
Residents in Lima are now facing a daily flood of rain that has left some buildings completely underwater, with water coming in through cracks and fissures in the roofs.
“We’re going to have to build a new sewer line,” said another resident, Carlos Sánchez.
Authorities said that more than 1,000 structures have collapsed in the region and some have been abandoned.
“Some buildings were completely destroyed,” said Gómes.
“One building that I saw collapsed, its ceiling was blown off.
The building was a restaurant.”
A neighbor told the AP that she had no idea what caused the quake.
“People were telling me that they were just frightened and I don�t think they were lying, I think they just didn�t know,” she said.
Local media reports say that some of the buildings have collapsed due to flooding.
At least 12 people were killed in the quake, according Reuters.
“Our roads are not safe,” a local official told Reuters.
At the moment, the country is still recovering from a deadly earthquake in October that killed more than 12,000 and injured over 400,000, according AP.
Peru is currently experiencing its worst drought in decades and many people have fled to the mountains for safety.