UNESCO's World Heritage Centre extends its deepest sympathies to those who have been affected by the powerful August 15 earthquake in Peru, which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale and left some 500 people dead and over a thousand victims.
Peru has 10 properties inscribed on the World Heritage List, including the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, the Historic Centre of Lima, and the Chan Chan Archeological Zone. No reports of major damage to these sites have been received so far, but emergency financial assistance from the World Heritage Fund has been offered to the authorities concerned to assess and deal with the situation.
UNESCO will also provide assistance to Peru's Ministry of Education to assess the situation of schools in communities stricken by the earthquake. According to the first reports, the tremors damaged 970 schools in the Ica region and 314 in Canete, a province about 150 kilometres south of Lima. At least five of the schools were totally destroyed. The evaluation mission, which visited the weekend of August 18, was comprised of national and international experts in seismology, seismological engineering, structural engineering, tectonics and geotechnology, from the Regional Center for Seismology for South America (CERESIS, founded with UNESCO support in 1966). Its objective was to reduce the risks and potential effects of aftershocks and to define the country's needs in terms of restoration and reconstruction of infrastructure.
In addition, working together with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), UNESCO will help children return to school as quickly as possible by providing temporary facilities and educational materials to stricken schools.