On the 31st of May, 1970, one of the worst natural disasters in history hit Peru.
On the 31st of May, 1970, one of the worst natural disasters in history hit Peru. It was an earthquake, accompanied by avalanches and rockfalls. And, when it had passed, 50-thousand people were dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.
Today, two and a half years later, little progress is to be seen, despite a large number of projects backed by government and foreign aid totalling millions of dollars.
All but a tiny minority of the survivors are still living in desperately poor conditions, mainly in emergency housing erected for them in the first weeks after the earthquake.
A VISNEWS correspondent who visited the earthquake zone said that not one citizen of the affected areas had a good word to say for the government body set up in 1970 to co-ordinate and finance reconstruction. The body is known as CRYRZA (Comite de Reconstruction y Rehabilitacion de la Zona Afectada), whose headquarters are centred in Huaraz, biggest town in the earthquake zone. The object was to produce immediate and daily contact with the survivors. But many of them complain that CRYRZA has kept aloof from their problems, treating them as a case study in regional planning and forgetting their basic needs.
And there is another problem. Many geologists believe that the area is riddle with dangerous physical flaws and that a further disaster is not out of the question.
SYNOPSIS: In May, nineteen-seventy, a rock and ice fall in these towering mountains triggered an avalanche that buried a city of twenty thousand people. It was part of the Peruvian earthquake of that time, in which it's estimated that fifty thousand people died.
Two-and-a-half years later, there is still plenty of evidence -- other than that of the graveyards -- to show the disaster occurred. For, despite a large number of projects backed by government and foreign aid totalling millions of dollars, little progress is to be seen.
The work of reconstruction and rehabilitation is being carried out by a special government agency known as CRYRZA. It was set up in the heart of the earthquake zone -- the Callejon de Huaylas -- so that it could keep in day to day touch with the problems and needs of the survivors.
These igloos, in the town of Czraz, illustrate much of what has, and has not, happened since the disaster. They were donated by West germany to temporarily house some of the hundreds of thousands of homeless. Despite a big building programme, many families are still living in them.
Many of the survivors are downhearted and despairing. And a recent tour of the earthquake zone by a VISNEWS correspondent failed to reveal a single citizen with a good word to say about the reconstruction authority. Some said it had remained aloof, treating them as a case study in regional planning and missing their problems entirely. And some say the new housing is too expensive for moist of the local people. On top of it all is another problem: many geologists say the area is riddled with geological flaws and unless careful study is made, there could well be another disaster.