Skip to main content

Powerful earthquake strikes off Chile, triggers tsunami

By Dana Ford and Saeed Ahmed, CNN
updated 9:35 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
Heavy machinery is used to clear debris on the road leading to the town of Camarones, Chile, on Thursday, April 3. Access to the town was cut off when an 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck northern Chile on April 1. Heavy machinery is used to clear debris on the road leading to the town of Camarones, Chile, on Thursday, April 3. Access to the town was cut off when an 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck northern Chile on April 1.
HIDE CAPTION
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake off Chilean coast
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President: "The country has faced these first emergency hours very well"
  • 5 deaths reported, interior minister says
  • Chilean authorities asked coastal residents to evacuate

(CNN) -- A mighty 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern Chile late Tuesday, triggering small landslides, cutting power and generating a tsunami.

Four men and one woman died -- two who suffered heart attacks and three who were crushed, said Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo.

About 300 prisoners escaped from the northern port city of Iquique in the immediate aftermath, he said.

The quake struck about 8:46 p.m. local time, some 60 miles northwest of Iquique. It had a depth of 12.5 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Chile's National Emergency Office asked coastal residents to evacuate.

"The fact is, we will know the extent of the damage as time goes by and when we inspect the areas in the light of day," Chile's President Michelle Bachelet said early Wednesday. "The country has faced these first emergency hours very well."

Chile's history with earthquakes
Chile quake causes 7 ft. tsunami waves

Residents in the port city of Antofagasta walked calmly through the streets to higher ground as traffic piled up in places.

"Many people are fearful after experiencing the powerful earthquake in 2010, so they immediately fled for higher ground when they heard the tsunami warning," said Fabrizio Guzman, World Vision emergency communications manager in Chile.

"There have been multiple aftershocks and communications have been cut off in many of the affected areas. So people are waiting in the dark hills not knowing what is to come, and hoping they will be able to return to their homes safely."

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued several tsunami warnings, but canceled all of them by early Wednesday. Tsunami watches, which initially extended as far north as Mexico's Pacific coast, were called off as well.

Tsunami waves of more than 6 feet generated by the earthquake washed ashore on the coast of Pisagua, according to Victor Sardino, with the center.

Iquique, with a population of more than 200,000, saw 7-foot waves.

Danger averted

An earthquake of the scale that struck Tuesday night is capable of wreaking tremendous havoc.

So, if the initial reports stand, Chile may have dodged a major catastrophe.

Landslides damaged roads in some regions. Power and phone outages were reported in others.

Chile is on the so-called "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines circling the Pacific Basic that is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

On March 16, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck 37 miles west-northwest of Iquique. A 6.1-magnitude hit the same area a week later.

Large earthquake hits off coast of Chile
Breaking: Earthquake off Chilean coast
Earthquake occurs in subduction zone
Expert: Tsunami waves move like a jet

About 500 people were killed when an 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile on February 27, 2010. That quake triggered a tsunami that toppled buildings, particularly in the Maule region along the coast.

According to researchers, the earthquake was violent enough to move the Chilean city of Concepcion at least 10 feet westward and Santiago about 11 inches to the west-southwest.

This was big but a bigger one awaits, scientist says

'No hazards' to U.S. coastline

The U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center worked Tuesday to determine the level of danger for Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, as well as Canada's British Columbia.

Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, told CNN there is "clearly not going to be any hazards to the coastline of North America."

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for Hawaii, saying strong currents may pose a hazard to swimmers and boaters.

What you need to know about earthquakes

Measuring the magnitude of earthquakes

The place where two earthquakes hit every hour

CNN's Erica Harrington, Dave Alsup and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 4:01 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
The U.S. has promised to supply and train "acceptable" rebels in Syria to counter ISIS. But who are they and are can the strategy work?
updated 8:39 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Branded an "extremist" by China's state-run media, Joshua Wong isn't even old enough to drive.
updated 2:55 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised political pundits with his rapid rise to power. CNN meets the man behind the enigma.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Liverpool's Italian forward Mario Balotelli reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group B match between Liverpool and Ludogorets Razgrad at the Anfield stadium in Liverpool on September 16, 2014.
British police launched an investigation into abusive tweets sent to Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli.
updated 7:44 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
A woman who was texting her husband before he was killed reflects on the Westgate attack.
updated 6:49 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 11:54 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
The real secret to a faster commute has been with us all along -- the bus.
updated 9:16 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
13 brands retained their Top 20 status from last year, according to an annual survey.
updated 11:49 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Think your new tattoo is cool? Look at how our ancestors did it and think again.
updated 7:00 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT