A MAJOR quake just off the Chilean shore killed five people, forced one million to evacuate and shook the Earth so strongly the tremor was felt across South America.
According to reports, the port’s pier sustained no damage, but its cruise passenger terminals and administrative offices suffered extensive damage.
There were no casulties because residents evacuated before waves started hitting the coastline, but Coquimbo Mayor Cristian Galleguillos reported that the city did lose power.
The previous quake also affected Valparaíso, with two-meter waves striking the city.
Authorities in Chile say at least ten people were killed by the powerful quake that struck the northern part of the country last night.
Overall, seismologists said that Chile’s heavy investment in structural reinforcement of buildings and constant refinement of its tsunami alert system helped prevent what would have been a catastrophe in less prepared nations. “Once again we have to confront a tough blow from nature”, Bachelet said in regards to Chile’s history with earthquakes. Officials said schools would be closed in most of the country Thursday. According to a preliminary assessment from the US Geological Survey, the quake’s epicentre was about 54km west of Illapel and had a depth of 33km.
The US government’s National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC) also issued a tsunami advisory for Southern California, including coastal areas of the counties of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego.
Auto alarms were set off in Buenos Aires – more than 1,100km away on the Atlantic side of the South American continent.
“Chile has good codes and good compliance, which together have reduced the vulnerabilities of their building stock over the decades”, said Richard Olson, director of Florida worldwide University’s Extreme Events Institute. High-rises in the neighbourhoods of Belgrano and Palermo swayed so much that many ran out into the streets. The strongest natural disaster ever recorded happened in Chile: a magnitude-9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people.