A powerful and violent earthquake measuring 8.3 struck off the coast of Chile Wednesday, swaying and shaking buildings. A tsunami warning was issued for Chile and Peru.
Urging civilians to evacuate the coastline, the mayor of Illapel, situated near the epicenter of the catastrophe, said there had been one casualty by a collapsing wall in the incident while more than a dozen were reported injured. Several homes had suffered damage, while the town was thrown into power outage. “We are very scared. Our city panicked,” he said.
The United States Geological Survey said the tremors were measured to be of a preliminary 7.9 magnitude, but were then upgraded to 8.3, as reported by NBC News. The earthquake originated just offshore in the Pacific at 7:54 p.m. and was about 141 miles north-northwest of Santiago. It was 4.8 miles below the surface. The agency further said that the quake was experienced in Central Chile and Western Argentina.
Aftershocks experienced following the initial earthquake were measured between 6.3 and 5.7 magnitude.
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The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said powerful tsunami waves of around 3 meters higher than the tidal level are possible for coasts along Chile, and between 1 and 3 meters for French Polynesia. The state of Hawaii was also placed on a tsunami watch, with the tsunami center saying the earliest generated wave could strike at 3:06 a.m. local time. Smaller waves are expected to hit some coasts of Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, and even Japan, the tsunami warning center said.
Chile’s state copper miner Codelco reported no injuries of its workers and damage to its installations. Antofagasta Plc also said there was no damage to its flagship Los Pelambres copper mine.
According to Reuters, witnesses say tremors could be felt as far as Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, on the eastern seaboard of South America.
In 2010, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake and following tsunami in central Chile led to the deaths of in excess of 500 people while destroying 22,000 homes. The blast of energy released following the earthquake changed the planet’s rotation slightly, causing the earth’s day to shorten by a fraction. The earthquake also forced the Andean nation to evaluate its alert systems for earthquakes and tsunamis. The incident also had political consequences, with assistance and aid unable to reach victims because President Michelle Bachelet and other government officials misjudged the extent of the damage and refused to receive international assistance.
According to Fox News, Chile was home to Earth’s strongest earthquake ever recorded – measuring 9.5 – in 1960, which killed 5,000 people.
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