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A midday blaze severely damaged the Geophysical Observatory at Huancayo, Peru, high in the Andes above Lima on August 28, 1996. The fire, which started accidentally, was one of a series of misfortunes suffered by the Peruvian Geophysical Institute (IGP) in recent years.

The observatory, which was built in 1919 by the Carnegie Institution of Washington, is a 4-hour drive by bus from the Pacific coast between cosmopolitan Lima and the Amazonian lowlands. From the late 1980s until 1992, the observatory was isolated from the international community due to political developments in Peru, namely the Maoist Communist insurrection known as Sendero Luminoso. The turmoil resulted in the loss of nearly all cooperative contracts with American universities for research at Huancayo. IGP did maintain a few contracts, such as one with Cornell for the Radio Observatory at Jicamarca in the northern part of the country.