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.