Massive quake hits Chile, triggers tsunami warning
At least 6 people died, and nearly 1 million were evacuated from the country's northern coast after the government issued a tsunami warning.
Wed, Apr 02, 2014 at 11:04 AM
Sunken fishing boats are seen on April 2 at the Riquelme Cove in Iquique, Chile, after the earthquake. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
A powerful magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck off the coast of northern Chile on Tuesday evening, triggering a small tsunami and a series of landslides.
Six people were killed, and most were victims of either falling debris or heart attacks, according to Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo.
The quake's epicenter was located in the Pacific Ocean 61 miles northwest of Iquique, Chile, according to the United States Geological Survey, hitting a region that's been rocked by numerous tremors over the past two weeks.
A tsunami warning was issued for the coasts of Chile, Peru and Ecuador, while high-wave watches were posted for residents of coastal Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica.
Nearly a million people were evacuated along the Chilean coast, and the nation's navy reports that the first tsunami wave arrived within 45 minutes of the quake.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the tsunami brought one wave measuring nearly 6 feet.
"It's usual to have tsunami alerts here," said La Serena resident Mónica Bustamante Wagner, whose family was evacuated to higher ground. "Luckily, the tsunami this time didn't hit as hard as in 2010, but there are many fishermen that lost their boats, and in some zones, the waves did flood some parts of towns."
The earthquake also caused landslides that blocked roads, knocked out power for thousands and damaged an airport.
Wagner says the tsunami warning has been lifted, but schools in the region have been closed. "Not many people could sleep, and the night was chaotic," she said.
Chile sits on an arc of volcanoes and fault lines known as the "Ring of Fire," and it's one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries.
Since 1973, Chile has had more than a dozen quakes of magnitude-7.0 and above, and in 2010, a magnitude-8.8 quake and ensuing tsunami killed more than 500 people and destroyed 220,000 homes.
The quake was so powerful that it moved the city of Concepción 10 feet to the west.
In the video below, watch the National Weather Service's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center real-time animation for the tsunami. It shows simulated tsunami wave propagation for 30 hours followed by an "energy map" showing the maximum open-ocean wave heights over that period.
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