The residents of the village of Socosbamba in central Peru are suffering from separation anxiety as their friends and neighbors are being pulled away from them by large mysterious cracks that are forming all around the village. In less than a week since the cracks began appearing, buildings, roads and fields have been damaged and over 174 houses were affected. Now the cracks are spreading to neighboring villages. What is causing this mysterious Peruvian crack-up?
The cracks began appearing around May 1st in Socosbamba in the Ancash region on the Pacific coast of central Peru. In the first few days, damage from the surprise fissures made 60 houses uninhabitable, destroyed two schools, closed roads and shut down water service to many areas. After five days, over 174 houses were affected and many residents moved into tents. Farmers lost nearly 40 square miles of wheat and barley crops. The cracks are now appearing in the nearby villages of Almapampa, Sacachay, Chaupihuran and Rubbers. The regional government is bringing in emergency supplies to those affected
Why are these villages breaking apart? No one knows for sure. Inspectors from the National Institute of Civil Defense (INDECI) say recent rains may have caused something commonly called “creep,” which is when clay get wet and expands, then dries and contracts. However, creep does not generally cause the massive number of cracks and damage seen in Socosbamba.
Villagers recall the magnitude 8.1 earthquake that hit Peru in 1974, causing numerous deaths in and around Lima and similar cracks in Socosbamba. They also remember the 7.9 magnitude 1970 undersea quake in 1970 off the Peruvian coast where the Nazca and South American Plates meet. Could these new cracks be a harbinger of a new disaster? No tremors have been felt so far. Experts from the Geological, Mining and Metallurgical Institute (Ingemmet) are coming in to investigate.
In the meantime, residents watch the ground continue to crack open as they wait for supplies … and answers.