A severe earthquake flattened much of a jungle city in northern Peru, authorities said Friday. Civil defense officials said 15 people had died but news reports said at least 29 were killed.

The quake that struck at 11:19 p.m. Thursday was centered 18 miles northwest of the city of Moyobamba in the highland jungles about 400 miles north of this capital city, according to the Peruvian Geophysical Institute.U.S. officials said the quake measured 6.9 on the Richter scale. Thirteen hours earlier, an quake measuring 6.1 struck 30 miles south of Moyobamba.

Moyobamba Mayor Cesar Arevalo said that his picturesque red-tile roofed city of 50,000 residents had been "practically destroyed."

Numerous strong aftershocks continue to shake the area, the Peruvian institute said.