Armed with $ 1 million for relief operations, the United Nations is rushing food and assistance to Peru, devastated by a powerful earthquake yesterday, which killed more than 500 people.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said 1,500 people have been injured and nearly 400 homes destroyed by the temblor, measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale, whose epicentre was 161 km away from capital Lima.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his deep sadness over the deaths and destruction resulting from the quake and pledged assistance to those affected.
"The UN is in close contact with the Peru government and stands ready to support relief efforts with measures, including the release of emergency funds and the deployment of a team of disaster assessment and coordination experts," the UN chief spokesperson said.
Hotels, health centres and hospitals have been affected, and in some areas, electricity and communications have been impacted.
OCHA and the UN Development Programme announced they had released two grants totalling $US 200,000 to provide immediate relief.
The UN World Food Programme said it would provide food worth $US 500,000 to the victims.
"We fear the death toll could increase and that many survivors will need immediate assistance until the local infrastructure and distribution systems are restored," a spokesperson of the agency said.