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Aftershocks rattle Chile as military keeps order

IQUIQUE, Chile (AP) -- Coastal residents of Chile's far north spent a second sleepless night outside their homes as major aftershocks continued Thursday following a magnitude-8.2 earthquake that damaged several thousand homes and caused six deaths.

No new major damage or casualties were reported, and a heavy police and military presence kept order.

The infrastructure in the area is nearly entirely intact, but with aftershocks continuing, life has been anything but normal. Power remains out in many areas, and hospitals were handling only emergencies. Schools were closed, and large supermarkets and gas stations coordinated their reopenings Thursday with police and military to avoid problems with long lines of customers.

After a magnitude-7.6 aftershock struck just before midnight Wednesday, Chile's Emergency Office and navy issued a tsunami alert, and for two hours ordered everyone living in low-lying areas along the country's entire 2,500-mile (4,000-kilometer) Pacific coastline to evacuate.

Among those moved inland was President Michelle Bachelet, who was in the city of Arica assessing damage in the north from Tuesday night's powerful quake.

"I was evacuated like all citizens. One can see that the people are prepared," she tweeted early Thursday.

Chile's evacuation order was lifted at around 2 a.m. Thursday. Some 900,000 people also were affected the night before when the entire coast was evacuated for several hours after Tuesday's bigger quake, although the tsunami proved small.

A 6.1-magnitude aftershock 47 miles (76 kms) southwest of Iquique shook the area again late Thursday.

The repeated aftershocks have shaken buildings and sent people running into the streets in the port of Iquique, the largest city closest to the epicenter. About 45 minutes before the 7.6 quake, a magnitude-6.5 aftershock also rattled Iquique. The shaking loosened more landslides near Alto Hospicio, a poor area at the entrance to Iquique where about 2,500 homes had been damaged in Tuesday's larger quake.

The Ministry of Education suspended classes again in schools in the north for Thursday, while the region's top prosecutor, Manuel Guerra, said his office is taking action against speculators who sharply raised prices for bread, water, milk and diapers. "They will be detained and charged," Guerra tweeted, calling on the community to denounce "intolerable" abuses.

The largest aftershock was felt across the border in southern Peru, where people in the cities of Tacna and Arequipa fled buildings in fear. Police Lt. Freddy Cuela in Tacna said no damage or injuries were reported. Peru's navy tweeted a tsunami alert for the country's extreme southern coast, which is next to the Chilean region hit by the quakes.

Authorities have reported six deaths, but didn't rule out the possibility others could have been killed in older structures made of adobe in remote communities that weren't immediately accessible.

The tsunami after Tuesday night's quake caused the sea to rise only 8 feet (2.5 meters) in Iquique, but that was enough to sink and damage many fishing boats, lifting some onto city streets and piling others up in the harbor.

Still, as Bachelet deployed hundreds of anti-riot police and soldiers to prevent looting and round up escaped prisoners, it was clear the loss of life and property could have been much worse.

The mandatory evacuations have been announced through cellphone text messages and Twitter, and reinforced by blaring sirens in neighborhoods where people regularly practice earthquake drills. But many Chileans have not downloaded the smartphone application that can alert them to evacuation orders, and some communities still lack warning sirens.

Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, and tsunamis are a particular danger because the fault zone lies just offshore, where the Nazca tectonic plate plunges beneath the South American plate.


Associated Press writers Eva Vergara in Santiago, Michael Warren in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Frank Bajak in Lima, Peru, and Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
ma1nguy April 04 2014 at 6:15 PM

I have a hard time with people trying to gain profit off the backs and misery of other people. Yes, try them to the fullest extent of the law.... Here in Hawaii in the early 90s with the coming hurricane of "Iniki" there was some price gouging as batteries were running in short supply and masking tape.

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2 replies
Joebudgie ma1nguy April 04 2014 at 7:03 PM

Unfortunately, we see the same thing on the South East coast of the USA every time a named hurricane comes near. There have been laws passed in most States and communities that are designed to stop the gauging but that is hard to detect and enforce.

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dal ma1nguy April 04 2014 at 7:34 PM

Look if the federal goverment won't do anything to the oil industry when they jack gas prices at the pump when they are pumping record amounts of oil right here in the USA ( last year Saudi Arabia Pumped just over ten million barrels of oil while here they pumped around nine point five million barrels) what hope do we have of the goverment stepping in and doing the right thing anywhere else.

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1 reply
Merrio Fryman dal April 04 2014 at 9:32 PM

our government is controlled by the big guy, thus not for or by the people.

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Eveorah April 05 2014 at 12:07 AM

Why have I stayed here? I'm stubborn. I might go east into Idaho but at present time I'm tied down by my obligations. That and I have friends here. The lady that boards my horses and goats at the stable and the stable hands. I'm not much for cities and hate where I live at presently. I'm trying to get my credit cleaned up and get a farm home loan to get me out of town. I want a place where I can keep my horses and goats on pasture out my front door (or back door as may be the case). Keep chickens and have a garden. The soil here isn't much different from where I grew up in far N. California and with global warming the climate is about the same as well. Plus one of my young friends over on the coast, a struggling horse trainer, (yes, I'm trying to talk her out of living there), is going to give me another horse, a little mustang mare, naturally gaited. I want to get into mounted archery and the mare would be perfect. Plus I like horses with spunk and quirks, both of mine currently were previously abused and so has this little mare. They're NEVER a dull ride! :D


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sfisher951 April 04 2014 at 3:13 PM

Gnarly (from 1829) originally meant "gnarled." In the 1970s, surfers started using the term to describe a dangerous wave; in the 1980s, teens started using it to mean both "excellent" and "disgusting." So how exactly does the word fit with the upfront headline?

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crotalus April 04 2014 at 3:28 PM

Another quake near Chile. Something which has been happening for millions of years. Some researchers say Charles Darwin's observations in Chile and his experience in the Concepcion Quake of 1835 convinced him that the mountains there were formed due to the actions of earthquakes over millions of years, not all at once by some act of creation or a giant catastrophe of some sort. Darwin made the observations and considered them supporting evidence of a theory advanced by English geologist Charles Lyell.

So, this quake isn't a harbinger of the "end times". It is simply another quake in a very long line of quakes over many eons.

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groucho114 April 04 2014 at 3:57 PM

And there's already garbage in it.

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1 reply
dal groucho114 April 04 2014 at 4:00 PM

Damn I saw that to! didn't take long for man to trash that new spot of earth.

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1 reply
jijjhnsn dal April 04 2014 at 5:06 PM

Trash could have fallen in when earth moved.

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sunnyb90 April 04 2014 at 11:49 PM

Eveorah you forgot to mention Mt Rainer - plus St Helens I am sure will join the others.

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merkjones April 04 2014 at 9:50 PM

Not real sure I would want to walk up and look down that opening in the earth.

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hman570 April 04 2014 at 5:13 PM

Mother Nature is again showing her power. I am sure this will not be the last one for this year.

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TruthBeKnown April 04 2014 at 6:53 PM

It looks like the ring of fire has been stoked up again.. ohh the east coast ~ !
Don't want to be there.

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1 reply
Richard TruthBeKnown April 04 2014 at 7:38 PM

Agree, the East Coast could get one heck of a tsunami if that volcano in, I believe is in the Azores splits and drops half of an island into the Atlantic. Not going to be a pretty sight.

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ronald1216 April 04 2014 at 2:06 PM

all the police and military will do is get out f control so tax payers get there moneys worth. they been busted breaking into homes there were supposed to protect thats why cameras arent allowed

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