Source AP ©

Death toll of strong quake in Peru rises to 337, hundreds injured

A powerful earthquake struck Peru 's central coast killing hundreds of people and injuring at least 1,000 others.

The Red Cross said the death toll was likely to rise.

Click hete to see photos of earthquake in Peru

The government rushed police, soldiers, doctors and aid to Ica, a city of 120,000 believed to be near the center of damage, but traffic to the area was paralyzed by giant cracks and fallen powerlines on the Pan American Highway south of Lima. Large boulders also blocked Peru's Central Highway to the Andes mountains.

In Chincha, a small town 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of Lima, an AP journalist counted 30 bodies under bloody sheets on the floor of the badly damaged hospital.

In nearby Pisco, "the dead are scattered by the dozens on the streets" and at least 200 people were buried under the rubble of a collapsed church, said Juan Mendoza, mayor of Pisco, in an interview with Lima radio station CPN.

"We don't have lights, water, communications. Most houses have fallen, churches, stores, hotels, everything is destroyed," Mendoza said, sobbing.

Civil Defense Commander Aristides Mussio, appearing on state television, said one person was killed in Lima and 336 in the region of Ica.