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Chile Earthquake

Monster Earthquake strikes Chile and caused Pacific wide tsunami warnings

Feb 27, 2010

A massive earthquake has hit central Chile, killing at least 122 people, the country's president-elect says.

The 8.8 magnitude quake struck at 0634 GMT about 115km (70 miles) north-east of the city of Concepcion and 325km south-west of the capital, Santiago.

President Michelle Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe" in affected areas and appealed for calm.

A tsumami set off by the quake has triggered warnings in Pacific countries from Japan to New Zealand.

Sirens warned people to move to higher ground in French Polynesia and Hawaii.

The earthquake is the biggest to hit Chile in 50 years.

Santiago was also among the areas that suffered extensive damage. At least 13 people were killed there. A number of buildings collapsed. A two-level car park was flattened, smashing dozens of cars.

A fire at a chemical plant in the outskirts of the capital forced the evacuation of the neighbourhood.

Official figures said 34 people had died in the region of Maule, with deaths also in reported in the O'Higgins region, in Biobio, in Araucania and in Valparaiso.

Chilean President-elect Sebastian Pinera, who is due to take office next month, put the overall death toll at 122, adding that it could rise.

National television said it estimated that at least 150 people had been killed.


Chilean officials said that so far, the worst affected town appeared to be Parral, close to the epicentre.

Television pictures showed a major bridge at Concepcion had collapsed into the Biobio river.

Rescue teams are finding it difficult to reach Concepcion because of damage to infrastructure, national television reported.

Haiti, 12 Jan 2010: About 230,000 people die after shallow 7.0 magnitude quake
Sumatra, Indonesia, 26 Dec 2004: 9.2 magnitude. Triggers Asian tsunami that kills nearly 250,000 people
Alaska, US, 28 March 1964: 9.2 magnitude; 128 people killed. Anchorage badly damaged
Chile, south of Concepcion, 22 May 1960: 9.5 magnitude. About 1,655 deaths. Tsunami hits Hawaii and Japan
Kamchatka, NE Russia, 4 Nov 1952: 9.0 magnitude
President Bachelet said: "People should remain calm. We're doing everything we can with all the forces we have."

Ms Bachelet said a "wave of large proportion" had affected the Juan Fernandez island group, reaching halfway into one inhabited area. Three people there are missing, local media say. Two aid ships are reported to be on their way.

Damage to Santiago international airport's terminal will keep it closed for at least 72 hours, officials said. Flights are being diverted to Mendoza in Argentina.

One resident of Chillan, 100km from the epicentre, told Chilean television the shaking there lasted about two minutes.

Other residents of Chillan and Curico said communications were down but running water was still available.

Many of Chile's news websites and radio stations are still not accessible.

In Washington, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the US was monitoring the situation, adding: "We stand ready to help [Chile] in this hour of need."

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the earthquake struck at a depth of about 35km.

It also recorded eight aftershocks, the largest of 6.9 magnitude at 0801 GMT.

The USGS said tsunami effects had been observed at Valparaiso, west of Santiago, with a wave height of 1.69m above normal sea level.

One journalist speaking to Chilean national television from the city of Temuco, 600km south of Santiago, said many people there had left their homes, determined to spend the rest of the night outside. Some people on the streets were in tears.

Chile is highly vulnerable to earthquakes as it is situated on the Pacific "Rim of Fire", on the edge of the Pacific and South American plates.

Chile suffered the biggest earthquake of the 20th century when a 9.5 magnitude quake struck the city of Valdivia in 1960, killing 1,655 people.

Are you in Chile? Did you experience the earthquake? Send us your comments, pictures and video. e-mail:

Monster Earthquake strikes Chile and caused Pacific wide tsunami warnings
Source: eTN BBC

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