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Magnitude-8.2 quake strikes Northern Chile

8.2 Magnitude Quake Strikes Off Chile's Coast

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - Authorities lifted tsunami warnings for Chile's long coastline early Wednesday after a magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck the South American nation's northern coast. Six people were crushed to death or suffered fatal heart attacks, a remarkably low toll for such a powerful shift in the Earth's crust.

The extent of damage from Tuesday night's quake couldn't be fully assessed before daybreak, President Michelle Bachelet said, but she wasn't taking any chances. She declared a state of emergency in the region and sent a military plane with 100 anti-riot police to join 300 soldiers deployed to prevent looting and round up escaped prisoners.

Thousands were evacuated from low-lying areas, but most began to return home as the tsunami alerts were lifted along Chile's long coast.

The shaking touched off landslides that blocked roads, knocked out power for thousands, damaged an airport and started fires that destroyed several businesses. About 300 inmates escaped from a women's prison in the city of Iquique, forcing the closure of the border with Peru. Officials said some two dozen had been captured early Wednesday. In Arica, another city close to the quake's offshore epicenter, hospitals treated minor injuries, and some homes made of adobe were destroyed, authorities said. Mining in Chile, which is the world's top copper producing nation, was not affected, although world prices for the red metal jumped as the quake raised supply concerns because most of the Chilean mining industry is in the northern regions.

Chile's Navy lifted tsunami warnings for all of Chile long coastline at around 7 a.m. local time (11 a.m. GMT). The mandatory evacuation orders had remained in effect until nearly dawn for coastal areas north of Antofagasta, a decision backed by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, regarding the coastline of Chile as still dangerous.

Bachelet, who just returned to the presidency three weeks ago, spoke well after midnight, five hours after the quake struck and she flew to quake-hit regions on Wednesday morning to assess the damage.

It was not lost on many Chileans that the last time she presided over a major quake, days before the end of her 2006-10 term, her emergency preparedness office prematurely waved off a tsunami danger. Most of the 500 dead from that magnitude-8.8 tremor survived the shaking, only to be caught in killer waves in a disaster that destroyed 220,000 homes and washed away large parts of many coastal communities.

"The country has done a good job of confronting the emergency. I call on everyone to stay calm and follow the authorities' instructions," Bachelet tweeted after Tuesday night's temblor.

When she finally addressed the nation, she said her interior minister would monitor the tsunami threat throughout the night and coordinate the emergency response. "Classes have been suspended, and we will be able to know the extent of the damage in the light of day," she added.

The tsunami warning center initially had cancelled tsunami watches for areas other than northern Chile and southern Peru. The only U.S. impact might be higher waves Wednesday for Hawaii's swimmers and surfers, it said.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially reported the quake at 8.0, but later upgraded the magnitude of the quake that struck 61 miles (99 kilometers) northwest of Iquique. More than 20 significant aftershocks followed, including a 6.2 tremor. More aftershocks and even a larger quake could not be ruled out, said seismologist Mario Pardo at the University of Chile.

Psychiatrist Ricardo Yevenes said he was with a patient in Arica when the big one hit.

"It quickly began to move the entire office, things were falling," he told local television. "Almost the whole city is in darkness."

The quake was so strong that the shaking experienced in Bolivia's capital about 290 miles (470 kilometers) away was the equivalent of a 4.5-magnitude tremor, authorities there said.

Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries because just off the coast, the Nazca tectonic plate plunges beneath the South American plate, pushing the towering Andes cordillera to ever-higher altitudes.

The latest 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. Hundreds of smaller quakes followed in the weeks since, 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.

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Jane April 01 2014 at 10:33 PM

I felt one earthquake there on vacation years ago...that was enough for me......I do realize things can happen in every country or city, but some locations are obvious for disasters.

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yyforyou April 01 2014 at 10:10 PM

I know alot of people who are on pins and needles here in California due to the many earthquakes we have been having. This makes me even more nervous and wondering WHATS NEXT !!!

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3 replies
Dr. Cal Harris April 01 2014 at 10:08 PM

Has anyone found a good site to track the tidal waves? I love Chile and feel for them. There can't be too many weak buildings left after the last five years of large earth quakes. The Earth seems to be stretching and adjusting the mantle a bit.

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1 reply
Lopez Dr. Cal Harris April 01 2014 at 10:41 PM

http://ptwc.weather.gov/?region=1

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Stacie April 01 2014 at 10:00 PM

Sometiimes the earth starts to move..The tectonic plates ?

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1 reply
ARIEL ALFA OMEGA Stacie April 01 2014 at 10:52 PM

I suggest you people repent from your sins and recieve Jesus as your savior, He's the only way the truth and the life, No one is gonna save you from God's wrath these are just warnings from God so people can turn from their sinful ways. This 8.2 earth quakes was enough to have swallow all of Chile. It was God's mercy that did not permit many millions to die... Jesus love is sooo awesome... That he want's peopl to repent and not go too HELL

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Virginia April 01 2014 at 10:00 PM

My prayers are with you all ... God Bless

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Velocity105 April 01 2014 at 10:17 PM

Sounds like they're used to it and/or prepared for it if a 6.7 caused a "brief evacuation." A 6.7 hits in my town, the whole city would collapse into screaming, crying, whining morons who wouldn't have the vaguest idea what happened let alone what to do.

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aquilateq April 01 2014 at 10:32 PM

8.8, Holy Cow , That's one heck of a powerful earthquake. That's over 300X stronger than the one we had in CA last friday. What's amazing is that there were "no reports of immediate damage" . I've never been to Chile, they must have and incredible infastructure. Think I'll go research Chile.

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MARTHA & PERRY April 01 2014 at 10:18 PM

if volcanoes start erupting in central America, I would definitely be heading inland for a vacation. way inland.

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1 reply
tak MARTHA & PERRY April 01 2014 at 10:54 PM

..yeah to the Plains and....Auntie Em...Toto too?

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wcivyman April 01 2014 at 10:15 PM

all a part of the "circle of fire" that surrounds the Pacific ocean where the tectonics plates meet. Including California coast.

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hilucero April 01 2014 at 10:11 PM

shake and bake... earthquakes can be deadly, especially on the ring of fire..... h

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