Magnitude 8.2 quake off Chile sparks tsunami warning
Updated: 2014-04-02 08:32
Magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck in off Chile's northern coast, sparking tsunami alert.
Two people were confirmed dead and three were seriously injured when a major earthquake struck off the northern coast of Chile on Tuesday night, the governor of Iquique Gonzalo Prieto told local radio station Cooperativa.
Authorities in Peru started evacuating communities in the southern coastal region of Ica. Electricity was partially lost in the Peruvian cities of Tacna, Moquegua and Arequipa but there were no reports of deaths or serious damage.
Chile's Collahuasi copper mine and port had no immediate problems following the quake, chief executive Jorge Gomez told Reuters, and mining company BHP Billiton said it had not received reports of damage. Chile is the world's No.1 copper producer.
300 prisoners took advantage of the confusion and escaped from a jail in Iquique, Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said.
Chile's Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo says tsunami alert for the country's coastline will go on for at least another six hours following quake.
Chinese embassy in Chile has launched emergency mechnism following the strong earthquake, saying no reports of casualties so far.
A tsunami alert was initially issued for Chile, Peru and Ecuador, but was later extended to Colombia and Panama. Tsunami watches were issued for Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, ABC News reported.
People check their phones after being evacuated from buildings in Iquique, northern Chile.
A tsunami warning could be issued for Hawaii following the quake, US officials said.
If tsunami waves reach Hawaii they would strike at 3:24 am (9:24 am ET) local time on Wednesday, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a statement.
Magnitude of quake off Chile has been revised up to 8.2 by US Geological Survey.
There is no serious damage to infrastructure or reports of victims, a government representative said.
"We have asked citizens to evacuate the entire coast ... there is no serious damage to houses ... there have been no people hurt," said home office minister Mahmud Aleuy.
The coasts of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua were also at risk, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
[Background] Iquique is a key copper exporting port, close to the country's main copper mines. Mining companies Codelco and BHP Billiton said that had not yet received reports of damage to mines.
Chile's ONEMI emergency office said that it has initial reports that the massive earthquake has caused landslides which are partially blocking some roads and highways.
Authorities in Peru started evacuating communities in the southern coastal region of Ica on Tuesday after an 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck off neighboring northern Chile, RPP radio reported.
Chile's navy says a tsunami has already hit some areas in the north of the country following a massive earthquake offshore.
A powerful magnitude-8.0 earthquake struck in off Chile's northern coast Tuesday night, and authorities ordered an evacuation of coastal areas in case of a tsunami. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
The US Geological Survey said the quake struck 61 miles (99 kilometers) northwest of the city of Iquique at 8:46 p.m., shaking a region that has been rocked by numerous quakes over the past two weeks.
The latest tremor also shook buildings in parts of the nearby nations of Bolivia and Peru. Waves measuring almost 2 meters already were striking cities on the northern coast.
A tsunami was expected to reach nearby cities throughout the night, and local TV images showed residents evacuating calmly. Chile's Emergency Office said a large tsunami wave was expected to hit the island of Juan Fernandez just before midnight local time.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an alert for all of Latin America's Pacific coast.
Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries. A magnitude-8.8 quake and ensuing tsunami in central Chile in 2010 killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes, and washed away docks, riverfronts and seaside resorts.
The strongest earthquake ever recorded on Earth also happened in Chile - a magnitude-9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people.
Hundreds of earthquakes have shaken Chile's far-northern coast in the past two weeks, keeping people on edge as scientists said there was no way to tell if the unusual string of tremors was a harbinger of an impending disaster.
The unnerving activity began with a strong magnitude-6.7 quake on March 16 that caused more than 100,000 people to briefly evacuate low-lying areas, although no tsunami materialized and there was little physical damage from the shaking.