State of emergency declared for Central Chile following massive earthquake

CHILE (KUSI) – 12:33 p.m. – A state of emergency was declared in a central region struck by a powerful earthquake.

So far, only 11 deaths have been reported, but in the city of Coquimbo, there was extensive damage from the earthquake and the tsunami that followed shortly after. 

According to BBC News, hundreds of people spent Thursday night in temporary shelters, while tens of thousands are without electricity.

Tsunami waves also hit the coast further north and south of the quake’s epicentre, with waves half a metre higher than usual as far north as La Punta.

Gloria Navarro, who lives in the coastal town of La Serena, said people were "running in all directions".

"Everything is a mess," restaurant owner Melisa Pinones told Reuters from the city of Illapel. "It was a disaster, a total loss."

Across parts of central Chile, residents began clearing up after what was the country’s sixth most powerful recorded earthquake, according to USGS. 

9/17/2015  – The death toll after the 8.3-magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of Chile has risen to 10 deaths with one person missing.

Advanced planning and authorities’ quick reaction after the quake prevented thousands more from death or injury as a nearly 16-foot wave on the shore in the Coquimbo Region.

According to CNN, approximately 1 million people evacuated ahead of the tsunami wave. 

President Michelle Bachelet told reporters, "The response to this earthquake has been very efficient, and we took the right measures."

According to Randy Baldwin of the U.S. Geological Survey, Chile’s coast is prone to earthquakes, and the country has a long history of large quakes.

"They’ve had a lot of experience," Baldwin said, noting a strong monitoring of quake activity and the retrofitting of buildings to minimize harm.

7:10 a.m. – Confirmed death toll has reached eight.

Wednesday 8:00 p.m. – Five people were killed and one-million people were evacuated Wednesday after an 8.3-magnitude earthquake shook the coast of Chile, according to the Government of Chile’s Twitter account. 

President Michelle Bachelet said three of the victims included a 35-year-old woman who was killed by a falling roof, a 20-year-old woman who was killed by falling rocks and a man in his 80s who had a heart attack.

Chile’s national emergency agency issued a tsunami alert, ordering evacuations in coastal areas from Africa to Puerto Aysen.

Coquimbo Mayor Cristian Galleguillos told CNN Chile the city was starting to see flooding and 95 percent of the city had lost electrical power.

According to the United States Geological Survey, at least 12 aftershocks of magnitude 4.9 or higher rattled residents in the area around the first quake’s epicenter within less than two hours.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. 

4:30 p.m. –  An 8.3-magnitude earthquake struck off Chile’s coast on Wednesday, according to a preliminary assessment from the U.S. Geological Survey.

According to CNN, the quake’s epicenter was about 29 miles west of Illapel, Chile, USGS said. It occurred around 7:54 p.m. (6:45 p.m. ET) and had a depth of 20.5 miles.

"Widespread hazardous tsunami waves are possible" along the coast of Chile and Peru, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Categories: KUSI