One of the world’s most powerful earthquakes in a century battered Chile on Saturday, at 3:34 am local time. According to Chile’s interior minister, at least 214 people are now known to have been killed.
Buildings caught fire, bridges collapsed and debris blocked streets across swathes of central Chile, but the initial death toll was relatively low from a quake packing many times more power than the one that devastated Haiti, January 12th according to Reuters’ report.
A 15-storey building collapsed in Concepcion (see the photos below), the closest major city to the epicenter, and overturned cars lay scattered below a fallen overpass in the capital Santiago. Telephone and power lines went down, making it difficult to assess the full extent of the damage and loss of life.
The earthquake also triggered a Tsunami which is right now propagating across the Pacific Ocean, due to arrive in Hawaii in hours (around 11:00 am local time). The severity of the Tsunami is still not known, but alerts are being issued across the Pacific.
note: The January 12 quake that devastated Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince and killed well over 200,000 people was measured as magnitude 7.0. [via Reuters; images via Boston]
Cars lie overturned after the highway they were travelling on was destroyed in an earthquake in Santiago February 27, 2010. (REUTERS/Marco Fredes)
A resident of Talca, Chile, walks amid debris of a destroyed house after a powerful earthquake struck the country early Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Roberto Candia)
The walls and aisles of a pharmacy in Vina del Mar are seen destroyed after a huge 8.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Chile early on February 27, 2010. The massive quake plunged much of the Chilean capital, Santiago, into darkness as it snapped power lines and severed communications, and AFP journalists spoke of walls and masonry collapsing. People in pajamas fled onto the streets. (MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke from a burning building fills the sky in the outskirts of Santiago after a huge 8.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Chile on February 27, 2010. (MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)