An 8.2-magnitude strong earthquake severely hit the northern coast of Chile on Tuesday evening, killing at least six people, and making authorities warn of possible tsunami.
The large quake shaked the region just before 9 p.m. local time about 60 miles off the coast of Iquique, Chile. Local authorities reported six people dead after they were supposedly crushed to death or suffered heart attacks. The severe disaster also allowed 300 inmates to escape a women’s prison in Iquique.
Numerous landslides, that happened following the quake, blocked roads, an airport was damaged and fires were reported in downtown Iquique. The country’s resque groups were sent to the northern region to guard against looting. The Chilean government is already counting possible damage that resulted after the tremor, which produced aftershocks of magnitude 6.2 and 5.5.
Which is more, the strong shakes were felt in Bolivia and Peru, and 6-foot waves reportedly hit the coast of the country. The earthquake was only 6.2 miles below the seabed, that’s why it was felt much stronger because it was because of being so shallow. Residents along Latin America’s Pacific coast were evacuating as a precaution after tsunami warnings were issued.
Sea level readings immediately after the quake showed it did generate a tsunami, the National Weather Service said in its official statement following the shakes.
“It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter and could also be a threat to more distant coasts,” the bulletins reads. “Authorities should take appropriate action in response to this possibility.”
Tsunami warnings and watches, once issued for 11 Latin American countries, remained in place for only Chile and Peru some four hours after the tremor hit.
“The National Weather Service originally issued tsunami warnings and watches for coastal cities in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica,” reports The NewYork Daily News.
“A magnitude-6.2 earthquake struck in nearly the exact same place on March 22. That quake, some 7.1 miles below the seabed, didn’t produce a tsunami. Iquique is a copper-exporting port in northern Chile, one of the most earthquake-prone regions in the world,” the publication adds.
It is too early to count all the financial losses caused by the disaster, but they are expected to be much lower than the $30 billion from the devastating 8.8 magnitude quake that hit the country back in 2010, which at the time affected the more densely populated central region, said earthquake expert Alexander Allmann at reinsurer Munich Re.
“The quake has caused severe damage to some buildings in the affected region, but in general the building standards in Chile are comparatively high, allowing buildings and infrastructure to withstand such quakes reasonably well,” said Allmann. “The small tsunami triggered by the quake is not expected to have caused significant damage.”
A large number of earthquakes were observed last month that force local authorities to improve emergency procedures, while residents bought emergency rations, and prepared for an eventual evacuation.
“The government of Chile has been working hard to improve the awareness of people living along the coast to the threat from tsunamis,” said Steven Godby, an expert in disaster management at Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham, England.
“Several tsunami drills have taken place since the (earthquake and) tsunami that killed an estimated 500 plus Chileans in February 2010, and recent earthquakes in the region have helped to keep the threat firmly in people’s minds,” he added.