Clashes in Peru’s quake-hit town

Police in Peru have fired tear gas to disperse protesters blocking a highway near Pisco – the southern town that was ravaged by an earthquake in 2007.

The demonstrators were denouncing what they said was a lack of action on the part of the government of President Alan Garcia to rebuild the town.

More than 500 people were killed and some 75,000 homes destroyed in the region by the 8.0-magnitude earthquake.

But two years later, many people in the region still live in tents and shacks.

‘Desperation and anger’

On Saturday, riot police used tear gas to disperse protesters who had blocked a section of the Pan-American highway leading to Pisco.

There is still grief in the town but also desperation and anger directed at the government for what many see as its failure to deliver on promises of a rapid reconstruction, the BBC’s Dan Collyns reports from Pisco.

Only 25% of the planned reconstruction has taken place in Pisco, the worst-hit town in the area, our correspondent says.

Some 40,000 people in the region are still living in tent cities or one-room pre-fabricated shacks.

Many local residents say millions of dollars in reconstruction funds have never reached them, accusing officials of corruption and inefficiency.

“The president [Alan Garcia] and the [Pisco] mayor are all liars. They haven’t done anything,” local resident Nilda Solis Miranda was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Fellow resident Aria Loayzo said: “All the streets are destroyed. There are no completed homes. There isn’t a good administration for the donations of money sent from other countries for our province.”

Mr Garcia, who has seen his approval rating drop to under 30% in recent weeks, had promised a speedy rebuilding of the region after the quake.

Peru’s fourth housing minister in three years, Francis Allison, admitted there had been mistakes and said some regional authorities had been working incredibly slowly.

Meanwhile, town mayors insist they never received government money promised to rebuild basic infrastructure and homes.

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