UPDATE, 10:18 a.m. Sept. 17: Thousands of residents in northern Chile were sleeping outside Thursday after a powerful 8.3-magnitude earthquake destroyed their homes, forced more than 1 million to evacuate and killed at least eight people in the quake-prone South American nation.
Authorities said the death toll could climb as emergency crews access hard-hit areas on Thursday. Mahmud Aleuy, the Interior Ministry’s deputy secretary, said electrical power was cut off to 240,000 households.
The quake and the heavy waves that followed caused flooding in coastal towns and knocked out power in the worst hit areas of central Chile, although most buildings held up well. The quake was felt as far away as Buenos Aires in Argentina.
Drone footage of quake damage in ChileChilean website TVN releases aerial images of earthquake and wave destruction along coastal community of Los Vilos.
Dozens of aftershocks, including one at magnitude-7 and seven at magnitude-6 or above, shook the region after the initial earthquake — the strongest tremor since a magnitude-8.8 quake and tsunami killed hundreds in 2010 and leveled part of the city of Concepcion in south-central Chile.
Speaking to the nation late Wednesday, President Michelle Bachelet said her government “learned a series of lessons” from previous disasters and that she would travel to the worst affected areas. It was the strongest quake in the world this year and the biggest to hit Chile since 2010.urged people who had been evacuated to stay on high ground until authorities could fully evaluate the situation. Officials said schools would be closed in most of the country Thursday.
In the past year, the nation of 17 million has endured devastating floods in the north, wildfires in the south and two volcano eruptions.
“Once again we must confront a powerful blow from nature,” said Bachelet.
Chile is due to celebrate its national holiday on Friday, but roads were cut off and public transport cancelled between Santiago and the north, local media reported.
Tsunami advisories were in effect for Hawaii and parts of California. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center originally issued a tsunami watch for Hawaii but downgraded the alert to an advisory. Tsunami warnings in Chile were lifted early Thursday.
Associated Press and Reuters wires contributed to this report.
The U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) said on its website that a tsunami has been generated by the earthquake.
Modeled tsunami travel times. The wave from the Chile earthquake will arrive in ~13 hours, or ~5 AM Thursday. pic.twitter.com/gmzgVWy56i
— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) September 17, 2015
According to a bulletin issued by NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, a 10.2 foot wave has been detected in Coquimbo, Chile.
— Hugo Chávez M (@HugoChavezM) September 16, 2015
“Based on all available data a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter. An investigation is underway to determine if there is a tsunami threat to Hawaii,” the bulletin said.
— Hugo Chávez M (@HugoChavezM) September 17, 2015
If tsunami waves impact Hawaii, the estimated earliest arrival of the first tsunami wave is 3:11 a.m. on Sept. 17.
The tsunami could also impact the U.S. West Coast, British Columbia, or Alaska, the NWS reported.
— RPP Noticias (@RPPNoticias) September 16, 2015
Mas de 12 replicas en ciudad costera de La Serena en Chile tras terremoto de 8.3. Alerta de tsunami y evacuacion en desarrollo @UniNoticias
— Fernando Pizarro (@FPizarro_DC) September 16, 2015
Videos are surfacing on Instagram are purportedly showing the moments during the quake in Chile: