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Tsunami alert after 8.2 quake strikes off Chile

Posted by Nuttapon_S On April - 2 - 2014

An earthquake of 8.2 magnitude has struck off northern Chile, triggering a tsunami alert for Latin America’s Pacific coastline, the US Geological Survey says.

It said the quake was very shallow, only 10km below the seabed, striking 86km (56 miles) north-west of the mining area of Iquique.

There are reports of 2m (6ft) waves striking some of the Chilean coastline.

Chilean authorities have ordered the speedy evacuation of coastal areas.

There are some reports of landslides hitting highways and Chilean TV has broadcast pictures of traffic jams as people evacuate coastal areas.

The Chilean interior ministry told the BBC that one of the main roads outside Iquique was cut off because of hillside debris on the road.

The ministry says that partial landslides have also taken place between the towns of Putre and General Lagos.

‘A big one’

A warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (TWC) said that the coasts of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua were all at risk of a tsunami.

A man stares at a restaurant by the sea shore burning after a powerful earthquake hit Chile's Pacific coast
A fire broke out at a restaurant on the shore at Iquique

“Everyone along our coast should be alert and ready,” Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa said on Twitter.

The Chilean navy said some high waves had hit the coast within 45 minutes of the quake.

“We have asked citizens to evacuate the entire coast… there is no serious damage to houses… there have been no people hurt,” said Chilean home office minister Mahmud Aleuy.

“An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicentre within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours,” a TWC statement said.

People take refuge in the Chilean coastal city of Antofagasta, 1 April
People take refuge in the Chilean coastal city of Antofagasta

A British expatriate near the northern Chilean city of Antofagasta told the BBC that there had been several tremors since the last quarter of last year.

“But this earthquake, even with the increased distance, seemed to last a lot longer,” Patrick Moore said.

“I was just sitting on my bed and normally these tremors using last at the very longest about 40 seconds – this one felt like it lasted about two minutes.

“I knew it was bad so I immediately went online to see what had happened and saw a tsunami warning that’s been put in place which confirmed my fears that it was a big one.”

Kurt Hertrampf, a hostel owner in Arica, told the BBC there was a big blackout in the town after the quake and he was surprised the telephone line was still working.

Chile is one of the most seismically active countries in the world.

Central and southern areas of the country were hit by a powerful earthquake of 8.8 magnitude quake followed by a tsunami that devastated scores of towns in February 2010.

In 1960 an area of Chile south of Concepcion was hit by a 9.5 magnitude which caused about 1,655 deaths and a tsunami in Hawaii and Japan.

The 9.0 magnitude quake that struck Japan on 11 March 2011 caused a devastating tsunami and left more than 15,000 people dead, with more than 3,200 missing.

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