Five Dead After Massive 8.2 Earthquake Strikes Off Chile Coast

Chile earthquakeAP Photo/Cristian ViverosA military vehicle patrols after an earthquake in Iquique, Chile, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. A powerful magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck off Chile’s northern coast Tuesday night. A powerful magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck off northern Chile on Tuesday night, setting off a small tsunami that forced evacuations along the country’s entire Pacific coast.

At least five people are dead following a massive 8.2 magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of Chile on Tuesday evening, according to the USGS National Earthquake Information Center.

At 8:46 p.m. local time, the quake struck at a depth of 6.2 miles, centered approximately 62 miles from Iquique, Chile, a city home to roughly 227,000 people.

Other nearby cities include Arica at 87 miles away, and Tacna, Peru, at 119 miles away.

Rick Allmendinger, a structural geologist who specialises in earthquake analysis at Cornell University, cautioned that this massive earthquake may not be the only one to hit the region.

“As big as [this earthquake] is, it probably has not released all of the stored up energy on the subduction earthquake fault in northern Chile,” Allmendinger said, in a statement to Business Insider.

A tsunami wave hit the coast of Chile about 45 minutes after the quake, the Chilean Navy told Reuters. Chile’s emergency office said it had initial reports of landslides partially blocking some roads and highways, including “major damage” to Highway A16 north of Iquique, Los Angeles Times reports.

Chile Interior Minister Rodrigo Peñailillo told AP the five dead were crushed or had heart attacks. Thousands more Chileans had lost electricity.

The USGS issued a “green” alert for most areas in the quake radius, which estimates the possible effects. At green, which is 5 on a 10-point scale, the USGS writes that “there is a low likelihood of casualties and damage” but areas exposed will feel “moderate” shaking.

“Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are resistant to earthquake shaking, though some vulnerable structures exist,” writes the USGS.

Two cities — Iquique and Arica — were marked at level six “yellow” for damage estimates, meaning residents may feel “strong” levels of shaking and could experience light to moderate potential structure damage.

Shortly after the earthquake, The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a regional tsunami warning for surrounding areas.

A warning was in effect for Chile, Peru and Ecuador, and a tsunami watch was issued for Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica, CNN reported.

“There is a possibility that Hawaii could be elevated to a watch or warning status,” a statement read.

This is developing and will be updated.

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