Officials reported three deaths. There were no immediate reports of damage.
The tremor was so strong that people in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on the other side of the continent, felt it. People in Peru and Brazil also reported feeling the shakes. No injuries were reported outside of Chile.
“Once again we’re having to deal with another harsh blow from nature”, Bachelet said in a televised statement.
As far away as New Zealand, authorities urged residents in eastern coastal areas to stay out of the water and off beaches amid expected “unusually strong currents and unpredictable water flows near the shore”.
A watch means that a tsunami is possible, but it doesn’t mean it will happen, said Chevy Chevalier, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Honolulu.
Claudio Moreno was in a Santiago bar when the quake hit.
“People started screaming that everything was shaking”, he said.
The first video shows shoppers evacuating a Santiago mall. People fled their damaged homes and poured into the streets, the mayor said.
Electricity was knocked out, leaving the city in darkness. ‘We were on the 12th floor and we were very afraid because it was not stopping. “Our city panicked”, Cortes said. The Chilean government put the main quake at 8.4 on a slightly different measurement, the Richter scale.
The quake occurred at 3:54 p.m. PDT 34 miles west of Illapel, Chile, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Tsunami advisories were also issued for parts of South America, Hawaii, California and French Polynesia, although waves were generally expected to be small.
In 2010 an 8.8 magnitude natural disaster triggered an enormous tsunami that killed over 500 people in the southern-central area. That quake released so much energy it shortened the Earth’s day by a fraction of a second by changing the planet’s rotation.
The quake had huge ramifications, both political and practical, prompting the Andean nation to improve its alert systems for both quakes and tsunamis.
Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County made a decision Thursday morning to close its beaches in response to the Tsunami Advisory.
Chile is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries because the Nazca tectonic plate just off the coast plunges beneath the South American plate, pushing the Andes cordillera to ever-higher altitudes.