Chile: One killed in massive quake

17th Sep 2015
Chile: One killed in massive quake
By Ben Tavener

 

SAO PAULO (AA): A powerful earthquake hit central Chile on Wednesday evening, killing at least one person and triggering widespread tsunami warnings, according to local authorities.

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet said on national TV that Tongoy and Coquimbo had been extensively flooded and damaged. She has declared a catastrophe zone in those areas and mobilised the military to help civilians and prevent looting.

The United States Geographic Survey (USGS) said the magnitude-8.3 quake struck 46 kilometers (29 miles) west of the central city of Illapel in the Coquimbo region, at a depth of 25 kilometers at 7.54 p.m. local time (2254 GMT).

Mayor Denis Cortes told local television channel TVN that in addition to the one fatality, 15 others were injured.

Reports from the Chilean capital, Santiago, 229 kilometers southeast of the epicenter, said high-rise buildings could be seen swaying.

Banker Andres Alvares, 32, was in central Santiago when the quake hit. “The movement was very slow, but intense at the same time. The earthquake stopped and then started again several times,” he told Anadolu Agency.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center warned that “widespread hazardous tsunami waves are possible” along the coast of Chile and Peru. The Pacific U.S. islands of Hawaii remain on “tsunami watch”.

The center reported a 3.1-meter tsunami was observed in the Coquimbo region, with smaller meter-high waves elsewhere along the coast.

Coastal areas were ordered to evacuate shortly after the quake struck, including the port city of Valparaiso near Santiago.

The USGS reported a number of aftershocks registeres at magnitudes of 6.3 and 6.4.

The earthquake was felt in the Argentinian cities of Cordoba and Buenos Aires, while residents in the south and southeast regions of Brazil also reported feeling tremors at around the same time.

Straddling the boundary of the Nazca and the South American plates, Chile is one of the most seismically-active regions in the world.

Six victims died in 2014 when an magnitude-7.6 quake hit near the northern city of Iquique.

A magnitude-8.8 tremor struck southwest of Santiago in 2010, killing at least 525 people.

The largest earthquake ever recorded, a massive magnitude-9.5 shock, rocked Chile in 1960. That disaster killed 2,231 victims in the south of the country.​

Author: Benjamin Tavener & Agencies
[Photo: Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile has declared a catastrophe zone in those areas and mobilised the military to help civilians and prevent looting. Photographer: Manuel Velasquez/Anadolu Agency]

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