Page last updated at 03:33 GMT, Saturday, 16 August 2008 04:33 UK

Thousands join Peru quake protest

Protest in Pisco
Pisco residents blamed corruption and red tape for holding up reconstruction

Thousands of Peruvians have marched in protest at what they say is the inadequate official response to a quake a year ago that killed 519 people.

The protest took place in the city of Pisco, one of the worst affected by the 8.0-magnitude tremor that also left more than 300,000 people homeless.

Strikes were held in Ica and Chincha, which were also near the epicentre.

The government says the scale of the devastation hindered reconstruction, but accepts it could have been quicker.

So far, about 30,000 families have received government credits worth $2,045 (1,100) to help build new homes and bonds for a further 8,000 families are pending.

'Raised in inequality'

Marching through the main square thousands of Pisco residents showed their frustration that much of their city is still in ruins a year on from the earthquake.

Some began at midnight, banging pots and pans and marching around the city's main square.


Peruvians take to the streets in protest

Others filed past the empty space left by the San Clemente church, which collapsed burying its congregation and killing more than 100 people.

The BBC's Dan Collyns, who watched the protest, says the church's open plot is a reminder that the citizens of this fishing port are still mourning.

But they are also angry at the slow pace of the reconstruction and blame government corruption and red tape for holding it up, our correspondent says.

Banners called for President Alan Garcia to tell the truth about where the $382m supposedly spent on the reconstruction had gone, and why so many people had still not received compensation to rebuild their homes.

"At this rate, reconstruction will last 10 years and a generation of our citizens, of our children, will be raised in inequality because they live in huts and have nowhere to study," said the governor of Ica province, Romulo Triveno.

Mr Garcia's popularity has suffered, our correspondent says, and critics argue that he has missed an opportunity to show he could use Peru's strong economic growth to do a good job of reconstruction.

Others say with Peru's weak institutions and poor infrastructure efforts were doomed from the start.

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Peru quake: Eyewitness accounts
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Country profile: Peru
06 Jun 08 |  Country profiles

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