A POWERFUL aftershock rattled Peru yesterday, sowing panic as rescue teams and volunteers scrambled to find survivors of a massive earthquake that killed about 500 people this week.
The aftershock had a 5.9 magnitude and damaged homes in the region of Huancavelica, which lies south of the capital Lima and is one of Peru's most impoverished areas.
No-one was killed, but the aftershock terrified some residents of the towns hit hardest by Wednesday's 8.0 magnitude earthquake. In Pisco, people standing in long lines for food and water scattered when the ground started shaking. Some survivors - desperate for food and water - ransacked a public market.
Other mobs looted a refrigerated lorry and blocked aid trucks on the Panamerican highway, prompting Peru's president to appeal for calm.
Aid including food, water, tents and blankets were finally arriving as the first mass funerals were being held. "Nobody is going to die of hunger or thirst," said Alan Garcia, the president, following complaints that aid was not arriving fast enough.
"I understand your desperation, your anxiety and some are taking advantage of the circumstances to take the property of others, take things from stores, thinking they're not going to receive help.
"There is no reason to fall into exaggerated desperation knowing that the state is present."