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World 8.8-magnitude Earthquake Hits Chile


1947-2014 (Archived)
8.8-magnitude earthquake hits Chile

Buildings fall 200 miles from epicenter in Santiago; casualties unknown

Huge quake hits Chile, sparks tsunami warning - Americas- msnbc.com

A massive magnitude-8.8 earthquake struck near the coast of south-central Chile early on Saturday, collapsing buildings and causing blackouts in parts of the capital Santiago, 200 miles away.

A tsunami warning was issued for Chile and Peru by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, and a tsunami watch was issued for Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Antarctica.

Soon after, the U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had generated a tsunami that may have been destructive along the Chilean coast near the epicenter.

The USGS said the earthquake struck 56 miles northeast of the city of Concepcion at a depth of 34 miles at 3:34 a.m. (1:34 ET). Its magnitude was initially reported at 8.3 then 8.5.

Buildings shook and collapsed in Santiago. With phone lines down, confirmation of damage was difficult elsewhere, especially further south toward the epicenter. The quake was felt in Argentina as well.

An earthquake of magnitude 8 or over is classified as a "great" earthquake that can cause "tremendous damage," according to the USGS Web site. The earthquake that devastated Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12 was rated at magnitude 7.0.

According to a 2002 census, Concepcion is one of the largest cities in Chile with a population of around 670,000. The quake knocked out power in nearby coastal areas.

Shaking, blackouts in Santiago
People streamed onto the streets of the Chilean capital, more than 200 miles north of the epicenter, hugging each other and crying, a Reuters witness reported. Buildings shook and there were blackouts in parts of the city.

The Reuters witness reported very strong shaking lasting for 10 to 30 seconds.

A national emergency official told local radio the government was evaluating damage in and around Concepcion.

The quake struck far from Chile's copper-producing northern region. Chile is the world's biggest producer of copper, its main export, producing about 34 percent of world supply of the metal, which is used in electronics, cars and refrigerators.

In 1960, Chile was hit by the world's biggest earthquake since records dating back to 1900, USGS data shows. The 9.5 magnitude quake devastated the south-central city of Valdivia, killing 1,655 people and sending a tsunami which battered Easter Island 2,300 miles off Chile's Pacific seaboard and continued as far as Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines.

Sangat ji This is the most information available at this time.


Tejwant Singh

I talked to some friends of mine in Santiago, the capital.They are all shaken up but rest is fine. They are still assessing the damages.

There was another earthquake yesterday in Japan but luckily it was deep in the ocean so had little effect.

Tejwant Singh


1947-2014 (Archived)
Latest news as of 1300 EST -GMT is that this quake was 900 times greater than the quake in Haiti.

However Chile a developed country has since its last great quake reformed its building codes. This means much less loss of life. Alas all tragic deaths are a sorrow. But they will tend better.

I will upload a slide show a little later.

Coverage on this quake came in almost instantly and was updated constantly because the infrastructure in Chile was in place and well established. They did not suffer the 10 hours or so of complete communication breakdown that was experienced in Haiti.

The predicted tsuanmi did hit the French Polynesian Islands.

More later.


1947-2014 (Archived)
As promised. Here is a photo stream from the earthquake coverage. These are photos from Chile and also from preparations for a tsunami watch in Hawaii.
Wreckage in Chile, Anxiety in Hawaii - ABC News

The predicted tsunami in Hawaii was almost a non-event, and was canceled at 1342 hours HST -10 GMT. Waves reached 7 1/2 feet or 2.268 meters in some areas but receded quickly with almost no damage.

Later two other earthquakes occurred as separate events. One off the coast of Japan, magnitude 6.9

6.9 magnitude earthquake rattles Okinawa, little damage

and one in Argentina, magnitude 6.3. The earthquake in Argentina has been reported in a separate thread. No news.

Updates to follow. :)



1947-2014 (Archived)
Recent slide/photographs from the Chilean earthquake.

It is very interesting to see the differences between photos of Haiti after its recent earthquake and Chile in terms of developed infrastructure - housing, roads, bridges. Also interesting is the varied ethnic mix of Chileans from blonde European stock, to Latin, to indigenous native american peoples.

Slide show is at this link:

Chilean quake and Pacific tsunami preparations - Picture Stories- msnbc.com



1947-2014 (Archived)
More detailed coverage is now available.

Massive quake hits Chile, triggers tsunami

Huge quake hits Chile, sparks tsunami - Chile earthquake- msnbc.com

NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 9:41 p.m. ET, Sat., Feb. 27, 2010

SANTIAGO, Chile - One of the largest earthquakes ever recorded tore apart houses, bridges and highways in central Chile on Saturday and sent a tsunami racing halfway around the world.

Chileans near the epicenter of the massive 8.8-magnitude quake were tossed about as if shaken by a giant, and the head of the emergency agency said authorities believed at least 300 people were dead.

Newly built apartment buildings slumped and fell. Flames devoured a prison. Millions of people fled into streets darkened by the failure of power lines. The collapse of bridges tossed and crushed cars and trucks.

"It came in waves and lasted so long. Three minutes is an eternity. We kept worrying that it was getting stronger, like a terrifying Hollywood movie," said Santiago resident Dolores Cuevas.

"Unfortunately, Chile is a country of catastrophes," President-elect Sebastian Pinera said, adding the quake heavily damaged many of the country's roads, airports and ports.

President Michelle Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe" in central Chile. Officials said about 1.5 million homes were damaged across the Andean nation.

Hours after the quake, smaller-than-expected tsunami waves hit Hawaii and the U.S. Pacific Coast. There were no immediate reports of damage and a tsunami warning for Hawaii was soon lifted.

Japan issued a warning on Sunday for a tsunami of 10 feet or higher and warned coastal residents to evacuate to higher ground.

At least 214 people were killed and 15 were missing as of Saturday evening, Bachelet said in a national address on television. While that remained the official estimate, Carmen Fernandez, head of the National Emergency Agency, said later: “We think the real figure tops 300. And we believe this will continue to grow.”

Bachelet also said 1.5 million people had been affected by the quake, and officials in her administration said 500,000 homes were severely damaged.

Dozens of aftershocks
Local radio reported 100 people were missing in a collapsed building in hard-hit Concepcion, one of Chile's largest cities with around 670,000 inhabitants. Firefighters rushed to put out fires, and most of the buildings in the city center were destroyed.

At least five people were killed by huge earthquake-triggered waves that smashed into Chile's Robinson Crusoe Island, named for the fictional, stranded sailor.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake struck 56 miles northeast of the city of Concepcion at a depth of 22 miles at 3:34 a.m. (1:34 a.m. ET). The quake shook buildings in Argentina's capital of Buenos Aires, and was felt as far away as Sao Paulo in Brazil — 1,800 miles to the east.

More than 60 aftershocks of magnitude 5 or greater were reported in the hours after the quake.

An earthquake also hit northern Argentina, causing a wall to collapse in Salta, killing an 8-year-old boy and injuring two of his friends, police said. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.3 temblor was a separate, "triggered earthquake" caused by ground waves from the Chilean quake.

Blazing buildings
A 15-story building collapsed in Concepcion, where buildings caught fire, bridges collapsed and cracks opened up in the streets. Concepcion's city hall also collapsed, according to radio reports.

"I was on the eighth floor and all of a sudden I was down here," said Fernando Abarzua, marveling that he escaped with no major injuries. He said a relative was still trapped in the rubble six hours after the quake, "but he keeps shouting, saying he's OK."

Upside-down cars lay scattered on a damaged highway bridge. Some residents looted pharmacies and a collapsed grain silo, hauling off bags of wheat, television images showed.

More than 200 inmates in a prison near Concepcion escaped when walls crumbled, Terra Networks reported.

In the town of Talca, 65 miles from the epicenter, people were jostled from bed as their belongings cascaded around them from the shuddering walls.

A journalist emerging into the darkened street scattered with downed power lines saw a man, some of his own bones apparently broken, weeping and caressing the hand of a woman who had died in the collapse of a cafe. Two other victims lay dead a few feet away.

In the capital of Santiago, 200 miles northeast of the epicenter, a car dangled from a collapsed overpass, the national Fine Arts Museum was badly damaged and an apartment building's two-story parking lot pancaked, smashing about 50 cars whose alarms rang incessantly.

“I saw how the cars fell off and I didn’t know what to do. I was alone here,” said Mario Riveros, a security guard at a factory in Santiago, as he stood next to a bridge that had fallen, according to La Segunda newspaper. “ I felt like crying.”

Three hospitals in Santiago collapsed, and a dozen more south of the capital also suffered significant damage, a health official said.

Tsunami warnings
The jolt set off a tsunami that raced across the Pacific, setting off alarm sirens in Hawaii, Polynesia and Tonga. Tahitian officials banned all traffic on roads less than 1,600 feet from the sea and people in several low-lying island nations were urged to find higher ground.

Tidal surges of up to 7 feet hit some Hawaiian islands Saturday afternoon but there were no reports of damage or injuries. In southern California, a tidal surge swept away most of the navigational buoys in Ventura's harbor but no boats sank, officials reported.

Tsunami waves were also likely to hit Asian, Australian and New Zealand shores within 24 hours of the quake.

On the island of Robinson Crusoe, a huge tsunami wave flooded the village of San Juan Batista, killing at least five people and leaving 11 missing, said Guillermo de la Masa, head of the government emergency bureau for the Valparaiso region. He said the huge waves also damaged several government buildings on the island.

Pedro Forteza, a pilot who frequently flies to the island, said, "The village was destroyed by the waves, including the historic cemetery. I would say that 20 or 30 percent has disappeared."

Bachelet said residents were evacuated from coastal areas of Chile's remote Easter Island, a popular tourist destination in the Pacific famous for its towering stone statues.

In the mainland coastal town of Vichato, in the BioBio region, waves flooded hundreds of houses. Tsunami waves also swept into the port town of Talcahuano, causing serious damage to port facilities and lifting fishing boats out of the water, local television reported.

ADN Radio reported many beach towns were wiped out, including Matanzas, a wind- and kite-surfing destination that attracts many foreigners.

It’s summer in South America and hundreds of thousands of people were vacationing at the beaches or starting to pack up to get back to work or school next week

'Houses were really shaking'
Santiago's international airport was closed as the quake destroyed passenger walkways and shook glass out of doors and windows.

Simon Shalders, who lives in Santiago, told Sky News: "There was a lot of movement. The houses were really shaking, walls were moving backwards and forwards, and doors were swinging open.

"Santiago has got a history of earthquakes and basically there's not a lot of old construction in Santiago because of these earthquakes.

"The new buildings in Santiago are designed to withstand fairly strong quakes and they probably held up pretty well."

Sylvia Dostal of Keizer, Ore., said she was on the 23rd floor of the Marriott Hotel on President Kennedy Avenue in Santiago when the quake struck. "I had been in earthquakes before, including the San Francisco Loma Prieta quake, but this was different. The building was swaying AND moving up and down!" she wrote to msnbc.com.

"We made our way to the emergency stairs, since elevators were out of the question. There were children, babies and parents all in bathrobes and nightwear gathering outside the building," she wrote.

There were blackouts in parts of Santiago and communications were still down in the area closest to the epicenter.

Santiago resident Leo Perioto told CNN that "windows were wobbling a lot" in his six-story building.

"The whole building was shaking," he added. "We could feel the walls moving from side to side."

Early Olympics homecoming
A Chilean skier decided to participate in Sunday's closing ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, upon learning her family and friends escaped injury in the massive earthquake that struck her homeland.

Noelle Barahona had planned on returning home Saturday, but she could not get a flight. Instead, she will remain in the athlete's village in Vancouver, team spokesman Luis Alberto Santa Cruz said.

Chile brought three alpine skiers to the games. Two had already left Vancouver.
Scientists say the quake was a "megathrust" — similar to the 2004 Indian Ocean temblor that spawned a catastrophic tsunami.

Megathrust earthquakes occur in subduction zones where plates of the Earth's crust grind and dive. Saturday's jolt occurred when the Nazca plate dove beneath the South American plate, releasing tremendous energy.

An earthquake of magnitude 8 or over can cause "tremendous damage," according to the USGS said. The quake that devastated Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12 was rated magnitude 7.

In 1960, Chile was hit by the world's biggest earthquake since records dating back to 1900. The 9.5-magnitude quake devastated the south-central city of Valdivia, killing more than 1,600 people and sending a tsunami that battered Easter Island 2,300 miles off Chile's Pacific coast and continued as far as Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines.