An earthquake hit Peru's coast Tuesday afternoon, shaking buildings in the capital of Lima. Initial reports said the quake had a 5.6 magnitude; however those estimates were later downgraded to a 4.6 magnitude by the U.S. Geological Survey.
Although buildings in Lima shook as a result of the earthquake, Reuters reported
, there were no reported injuries. The earthquakes epicenter was reportedly 21 miles west of Lima, on the floor of the Pacific Ocean.
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The Christian Science Monitor reported that earthquakes of this strength
are common throughout the year, with tens of thousands of quakes occurring on an annual basis around the world.
Earthquakes are a frequent occurrence in Peru due to its location in a seismic zone between the Nazca and South American plates, which are continually colliding at a slow rate every year. The same seismic shift that produces earthquakes across South America is also responsible for creating the Andes mountains and Peruvian highlands.
In the past 100 years, Peru has experienced 34 sizable earthquakes ranging in magnitude from 6.0 to 8.4. The most recent significant earthquake occurred in September of this year when a 7.0 magnitude quake hit a sparsely populated area southwestern Peru causing only minor damage and no reported injuries.
In contrast, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake in July hit the densely populated Pacific archipelago nation of Indonesia and killed at least 35 people and injured some 276 others.
To better prepare for earthquakes, more than 24 million people in earthquake-prone regions around the world took part in a world earthquake drill this past October. Nine and a half million were in California alone.
Called the Great ShakeOut, the earthquake drill
was first held in California in 2008 and participation has since spread around the globe. This year, Japan, Canada, Italy and Guam planned to join the U.S. in the drill.
Every year there are several million earthquakes that occur around the world, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates on its website
, yet many they say go undetected due to their occurrence in remote regions where there are few inhabitants.
On average, there are approximately 15 earthquakes each year with a magnitude between 7.0 and 7.9, and just one with a magnitude that exceeds 8.0, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates.
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