[ Photo: People stay in the street after an earthquake in Valparaiso, Chile. (Xinhua/Str)]
SANTIAGO, (Xinhua): Five people have died in a 8.2-magnitude earthquake that hit off Chilean northern coast Tuesday, according to Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo.
According to the University of Chile Seismological Service, the powerful tremor hit off northern Chilean coast at 8:46 p.m. local time (2346 GMT) and the epicenter, with a depth of 44 km, is located 99 km northwest of the mining port of Iquique, near the Peruvian border. The U.S. Geological Survey has initially reported the quake at 8.0 magnitude.
Chilean National Office for Emergency said more than 10,000 people in some coastal cities have been evacuated. Power went out and communications were affected in some areas where landslides blocked some roads and highways to the region.
The Office also said 300 inmates escaped from a women’s prison in the city of Iquique and the military was sending a planeload of special forces to prevent looting.
Xiao Feng, vice consul of the Chinese Consulate General in Iquique told Xinhua that the quake was so strong that a lot of office equipment was knocked down.
At least 10 strong aftershocks, including a 6.2 tremor, occurred so far after the major quake.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has said the quake generated a large tsunami with the biggest wave reported at 2.3 meters. The Chilean navy said tsunami waves have hit some coastal areas.