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News Release from NZ Society for Earthquake Engineering

Earthquake Experts Head to Peru to Bring Back Lessons for New Zealand

24 August 2007

A team of earthquake experts, organised by the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE) and sponsored by the Earthquake Commission (EQC), is scheduled to leave for Lima on Saturday to investigate the impact of last week's devastating earthquake off the coast of Peru.

The magnitude 8 earthquake occurred at 6:34pm local time on August 15, with an epicentre near Chincha Alta, on Peru's central coast area. The earthquake was strongly felt in Lima, 150km to the north. The toll has reached 503 dead and 1042 injured, according to the National Institute of Civil Defense and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Preliminary government figures show the quake destroyed 34,410 houses and caused the collapse of four hospitals.

The six-strong reconnaissance team, under the leadership of Dr David Hopkins, an earthquake engineering specialist from Wellington, includes civil and structural engineers with expertise in buildings, bridges, lifelines, and geotechnical impacts and a GNS Science seismologist who specialises in modelling the physical effects of earthquakes.

Also included is a civil defence manager from Greater Wellington Regional Council who will investigate the response of emergency services and the impact on the community.

NZSEE and EQC have a long record of sending information-gathering teams to countries where large earthquakes have occurred.

Andrew King of GNS Science, the NZSEE reconnaissance mission coordinator, said the team's focus during their week in Peru was on learning lessons that could be applied to improving New Zealand's resilience to large earthquakes.

"We know it is only a matter of time before we experience a major earthquake of this nature in New Zealand," Mr King said.

"We can benefit greatly by learning and applying the knowledge gained from missions such as this to our practices and response planning."

The team's observations will be posted on NZSEE website - - as information is received from Peru. Findings will also be published in the NZSEE Bulletin, a quarterly publication available on the NZSEE website.

Andrew King, GNS Science:
P: +64-4-570-4749, M: +64-21-570-474 or

John Callan, Communications Manager, GNS Science:
P: +64-4-570-4732, M: +64-27-440-2571

Dr David Hopkins, Team Leader:


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