Peru Earthquake 2011: Earthquake Destroys 134 Homes, Damages 18th Century Cathedral

Officials report that 103 people have been treated at hospitals and some 134 homes destroyed as a result of Friday's earthquake that shook southwestern Peru.

The 6.9-magnitude quake occurred just off the coast, not too far from the epicenter of a devastating 2007 quake that claimed 500 lives. After the original tremor Friday, at least nine aftershocks followed, reported The Associated Press. The most significant aftershock measured a magnitude 5.5 on the Richter scale.

Most of the collapsed homes were made of adobe, or natural building materials, civil defense chief Alfredo Murgueytio told AP.

Two churches were reported damaged and in danger of collapsing, including an 18th century cathedral in the city of Ica, the closest urban agglomeration to the epicenter of the earthquake.

Friday's earthquake reportedly sent people running panicked into the streets when it struck at 6:54 p.m. local time.

The epicenter was located at 14.457 degrees south and 75.990 degrees west, 31 miles away from the city of Ica, and 178 miles away from Lima, the country's capital.

Peru has a history of earthquakes, ranging from minor ones to those causing major death and significant damage.

The previous earthquake struck the country on Aug. 24, 2011. The 7.0-magnitude quake hit the Amazon region, making buildings in the capital and in neighboring Brazil shake, according to Reuters. At the time, no injuries or major damage was reported, but mobile phone services were interrupted in Lima.

The August earthquake has been the most powerful one to hit Peru since a 7.9-magnitude tremor killed over 500 people and destroyed thousands of houses in 2007. At the time, bodies were reportedly scattered on the streets of the town of Pisco, located close to the epicenter. At least 200 people were also buried under the rubble of a church that collapsed during a service. On Aug. 16, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI offered prayers for the victims.

South America's west coast is a segment of the circum-Pacific seismic belt, where more than two-thirds of the world's large-magnitude earthquakes occur, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The deadliest earthquake in Peru's history occurred on May 31, 1970. The 7.9-magnitude earthquake and aftershocks resulted in the greatest death toll resulting from landslides and flooding due to burst dams. An estimated 50,000 people perished at the time. The country also experienced unprecedented damage to property.

Before 1970, in an earthquake that struck Lima in Oct. of 1746, at least 5,000 persons were killed, many of them when a tsunami swept the coast.

On Nov. 10, 1946, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake, centered in the region of the May 1970 shock, generated landslides that swept away the town of Quiches (northeast of Chimbote).