After an 8.0 magnitude earthquake lasting a lengthy two minutes hit the coast of Peru on Aug. 15, Church officials confirmed that nine members are among the estimated 540 dead, seven of them from the town of Pisco, which is 70 percent destroyed.
Priesthood leaders quickly organized to send help to the hardest-hit areas of Pisco, Ica, and Chincha from resources in Arequipa after learning that a road collapse cut off any immediate relief from nearby Lima.
Church headquarters dispatched a plane from Church headquarters filled with emergency supplies.
Miguel Tenorio, director of Temporal Affairs for the South America West Area, said that in the meantime local leaders provided food, tarps and portable toilets for the victims two days before an alternate route was scheduled to be completed from Lima.
LDS meetinghouses opened to hundreds of members and residents after many were left homeless.
The area presidency is working with officials to provide food and water in community relief centers while survivors rebuild their homes.
Church leaders are already providing tools and materials for members and other residents to help with clean-up efforts as well as reconstruction.
Aftershocks have been a constant threat to rescuers, including three that measured above 4.0 in Lima, reported Brother Tenorio.
Rescue efforts were called off Aug. 20 after the last survivor was recovered Aug. 18, according to the Associated Press. Efforts are now being focused on recovering bodies.
Missionaries of the Peru Lima South Mission have been relocated to the city of Lima. Meanwhile, Church Public Affairs is coordinating with the Department of Civil Defense for members and missionaries to participate in service activities through Helping Hands.