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8.3-magnitude quake strikes off Chile

Authorities are assessing the damage in several coastal towns that saw flooding.   | Photo Credit: RODRIGO GARRIDO

A magnitude 8.3 earthquake hit off the coast of Chile on Wednesday, shaking buildings in the capital city of Santiago and killing five people. Authorities worked into the early hours on Thursday assessing damage in several coastal towns that saw flooding from small tsunami waves set off by the quake.

Authorities said that at least five people had been killed and one person was listed as missing. Numerous aftershocks shook the region after the initial earthquake.

'Once again we must confront a powerful blow from nature'

President Michelle Bachelet urged people who evacuated from coastal areas to stay on high ground until authorities could fully evaluate the situation during the night.

“Once again we must confront a powerful blow from nature,” Ms. Bachelet said in an address to the nation late Wednesday.

The tremor was so strong that people in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on the other side of the continent, reported feeling it. No injuries were reported outside Chile. Authorities said some adobe houses collapsed in the inland city of Illapel, about 175 miles (280 kilometers) north of Santiago and about 34 miles (55 kilometers) east of the quake’s epicenter. Illapel’s mayor, Denis Cortes, told a local television station that a woman had been killed in the city but declined to give any details.

Estimated population exposure and losses

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Source: U.S. Geological Survey.

Preparedness and risk reduction

“Earthquake impact is a little like real estate- what matters is location, location, location,” said Susan Hough, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “But it is true that preparedness and risk reduction in Chile is ahead of that in much of the world, and that makes a difference.”

While Wednesday’s tremor was strong by any estimation, the 2010 quake was 5.6 times more powerful in terms of energy released, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Tsunami advisory for Hawaii, California

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had originally issued a watch for Hawaii, saying a tsunami may have been generated by Wednesday’s earthquake. They later downgraded the alert to an advisory, saying that current data indicated there would be no major tsunami in the state, but that sea-level changes and dangerous currents could pose a threat to those in or near the water.

A similar advisory was issued for southern and central California.

Chile and earthquakes

A magnitude-8.8 quake and ensuing tsunami in south-central Chile in 2010 killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes, and washed away docks, riverfronts and seaside resorts. That quake released so much energy, it actually it shortened the Earth’s day by a fraction of a second by changing the planet’s rotation.

The quake had huge ramifications, prompting the Andean nation to improve its alert systems for both quakes and tsunamis.

Chile is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries because just off the coast, the Nazca tectonic plate plunges beneath the South American plate, pushing the towering Andes cordillera to ever-higher altitudes.

The strongest earthquake ever recorded on Earth happened in Chile a magnitude-9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people.


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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 7:02:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/powerful-quake-hits-off-coast-of-chile-evacuations-ordered/article7661764.ece

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