(Reuters) - A massive earthquake hit Peru on Wednesday evening and officials said hundreds of people were killed in the rubble of collapsed homes and churches as rescuers searched for victims early on Thursday.
Following is a chronology of some major earthquakes in South America, Central America and Mexico since 1970:
May 31, 1970 - PERU - An earthquake of 7.9 magnitude destroys the towns of Yungay, Huaraz and Chimbote and surrounding villages, leaving more than 50,000 dead and 600,000 homeless.
December 23, 1972 - NICARAGUA - An earthquake of 6.5 magnitude strikes Managua, killing between 5,000 and 7,000 people.
February 4, 1976 - GUATEMALA - A rash of quakes of up to 7.5 magnitude just north of Guatemala City kills 23,000 people, injures 80,000 and leaves 1.5 million homeless.
December 12, 1979 - COLOMBIA - An undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 to 8.1 strikes the coast of Colombia, killing 600 people and leaving over 80,000 homeless when the Port of Tumaco is devastated by the temblor and resulting tidal wave.
March 31, 1983 - COLOMBIA - The city of Popayan is devastated by a quake of 5.5 magnitude as at least 500 people are killed and 3,000 families left homeless.
March 3, 1985 - CHILE - Santiago is struck by an earthquake of 7.4 magnitude. One hundred seventy-seven people die and thousands lose their homes.
September 19, 1985 - MEXICO - An earthquake of 8.1 magnitude hits Mexico City and the adjoining region, killing between 6,000 and 12,000 people.
October 10, 1986 - EL SALVADOR - A quake with a magnitude of 7.5 hits San Salvador. The death toll is about 1,500 with 20,000 people injured and more than 300,000 homeless.
March 5, 1987 - ECUADOR - A quake with a magnitude of 7.0 hits El Reventador, 50 miles east of Quito. More than 1,000 people are killed.
May 29, 1990 - PERU - An earthquake of 5.8 magnitude strikes 80 miles north of the town of Moyobamba, killing 101 people.
September 1, 1992 - NICARAGUA - An earthquake of 7.0 magnitude strikes the Pacific coast and kills 120 people. More than 16,000 are made homeless.
June 6, 1994 - COLOMBIA - A 6.0 magnitude quake and resulting mudslides kill 1,000 people in the Paez River valley in southwestern Colombia.
January 26, 1999 - COLOMBIA - At least 938 people are killed and more than 4,000 injured when an earthquake of 6.0 magnitude hits the central coffee-growing region.
January 13, February 13, 2001 - EL SALVADOR - Earthquakes of 7.6 magnitude on January 13 and 6.6 magnitude on February 13 kill more than 1,150 people and leave about 1 million homeless.
August 15, 2007 - PERU - An earthquake of 7.9 magnitude hits Peru and officials say at least 337 people died and 1,300 are injured.
Source: Reuters; US Geological Survey (earthquake.usgs.gov);