Lima’s extraordinary unpreparedness for a major quake

I got quite worried reporting our story about just how unprepared Lima is for a quake of 8.0 magnitude or higher. Lima’s La Republica newspaper summarized the most alarming quotes in Spanish.

Lima authorities have urged everyone to have an emergency backpack at the ready with water, food , flashlight and personal hygiene items. And they are trying to get people to think about situational awareness in a major quake: where is it safest to shelter. Do you run? Duck under a table?

Meanwhile, check out this new study that pinpoints where the world’s “great quakes” are most apt to occur, a PDF:  “The link between great earthquakes and the subduction of oceanic fracture zones.”

Eight of the 15 most devastating quakes ever recorded have occurred where I live – gulp – along the Peru-Chile trench where the undersea Nazca plate collides with the South American continental plate. The Nazca plate slides into the subduction zone at about 3 inches a year on average.