A strong earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale hit southern Peru late on Monday sparking panic, although the amount of damage was not clear, the country's Geophysics Institute said.

The quake hit at 2323 IST and was centred in the Pacific Ocean some 74 kilometres west of the city of Pisco at a depth of 35 kilometres.

The US Geological Survey, which uses the Moment Magnitude scale to measure earthquakes, put the tremor at 5.5.

Preliminary reports showed no victims or significant damages, a source at the San Juan de Dios hospital in Pisco said.

A violent 7.9 degree quake shook the region in August 2007, destroying 80% of the city of Pisco. The quake killed 595 people and left 300 missing and 300,000 homeless.