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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rioting Hits Peru After Major Quake

PISCO, Peru -- The government sent more troops to stem looting in earthquake-shattered Peru as desperate families huddled in makeshift shelters and hope diminished for rescuers searching mountains of rubble with sound detectors and infrared cameras.

Military trucks carrying supplies filled the port city of Pisco on Saturday, and survivors fought over cans of tuna and cartons of milk. In a football stadium, more than 500 people lined up at a lone truck for crackers, candy and toilet paper. When the supplies ran out, people rushed the truck screaming that they had not yet eaten.

Peruvian President Alan Garcia vowed to re-establish order in areas hit by Wednesday's magnitude-8 quake "regardless of what it costs."

"Whoever tries to cause a disturbance is going to face the consequences," Garcia told reporters, as the government deployed an additional 1,000 soldiers to the area.

Authorities set up food distribution points in Pisco but very little aid seemed to be arriving to the estimated 80,000 people affected by the quake.

"It is very cold at night and we don't have blankets. We don't have water. The tents have not arrived," said Maria Tataja, 38, who was sharing an open-fronted shelter with nine other people. She shivered in the ocean breeze.

Planes that initially carried the injured to Lima were now being used to ferry supplies to the victims, Garcia's Cabinet chief, Jorge del Castillo, told El Comerico newspaper.

But Miguel Soto, a police officer keeping guard in the stadium, said many trucks with food were not getting through.

He said food donated by one Lima district had been sacked on the traffic-clogged highway before it could reach Pisco. "These are just people taking advantage."

Defense Minister Allan Wagner said Saturday in Pisco that the death toll had risen to 540, up from the previous figure of 510 provided by firefighters.

Destruction was centered in Peru's southern desert, the oasis city of Ica and nearby Pisco, about 200 kilometers southeast of the capital of Lima.

As many as 80 percent of the people in quake-hit urban areas may not have access to clean water and many rural communities still have not been reached to assess the damage, said Dominic Nutt, part of an emergency assessment team in Peru for the aid agency Save the Children.

"The situation is probably worse than first imagined," Nutt said by telephone from Lima.

Wagner said the number of soldiers in Pisco would be increased to 1,000 from 400. Foreign Commerce Minister Mercedes Araoz said looting continued to be a problem: "We're trying to do something about the highway robbers. ... The army is heading to the area now to control it."

Hopes of finding more survivors diminished. At least 1,500 people were injured and Garcia said at least 80,000 people had suffered the quake's impact through the loss of loved ones or destroyed or damaged homes.

Paul Wooster, coordinator of the Rapid U.K. Rescue team from Gloucester, England, said rescuers were using sound detectors and infrared cameras to search mountains of rubble. The latest survivor was pulled from rubble Friday.

"We always work on a four-day window and I'm talking realistically. So we are still looking for survivors but there's not much more time," Wooster said.