Washington - United States Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today sent a letter to President George W. Bush requesting a sustained effort and level of support for Peru in light of Wednesday's 8.0 earthquake which has devastated towns and cities along the country's Pacific coast south of Lima.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims as they begin to rebuild their homes and their lives after this tragedy," said Menendez. "As aftershocks continue to devastate an already fragile nation, I call on all Americans to support the Peruvian community, and demonstrate the strength, courage and generosity of sprit that makes our nation great."
Full text of the letter follows below:
August 17, 2007
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Wednesday evening, August 15, 2007, Peru suffered an earthquake of historic proportions that has caused unimaginable death and destruction. The death toll and damage continues to rise as relief efforts spread out from urban areas and into the region's isolated mountainside communities. Our neighbor to the South is in need of urgent help, and the United States must commit significant immediate and long-term aid to their relief and recovery efforts.
The 8.0-magnitude earthquake and aftershocks, the deadliest since 1970, have so far left 447 people dead and 1,003 more injured, and the toll continues to rise. The cities just south of Lima, Pisco and Ica, have been hit the hardest. A quarter of the 120,000 buildings in Pisco alone were destroyed. According to Pisco Mayor Juan Mendoza, "The dead are scattered by the dozens on the streets." And the thousands of displaced people throughout the country who are without electricity and cut off from other parts of the country are in desperate need of blankets, clothing and food.
I applaud the United States' initial response. I understand that the U.S. Agency for International Development has committed an initial $100,000 for immediate emergency needs, that a 30-member medical team based in Honduras is on its way, and that the Navy hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, is in Ecuador and could quickly sail to Peru if asked. But the United States must be prepared to do more to help those in crisis.
The United States must take this opportunity to not only commit to the important immediate needs, but to the long-term development needs of the victims as well. Peru will likely put out a call for international aid, but the United States should take the initiative and commit the resources and aid needed to help our neighbors recover from such a horrific disaster. As we approach the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we must not forget the impact a severe natural disaster can have upon the people, infrastructure and spirit of a nation. We must commit to help.
United States Senator