Tags: Chile | earthquake | tsunami | evacuations

Tsunami Expected After Killer Earthquake Rocks Pacific

Tuesday, 01 Apr 2014 09:24 PM

A major earthquake of magnitude 8.2 struck off the coast of Chile on Tuesday, triggering a tsunami that hit the northern part of the country.

Authorities said at least two people had died and three were seriously injured in the quake.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was shallow at 12.5 miles below the seabed and struck about 60 miles northwest of the mining port of Iquique near the Peruvian border.

The Chilean navy said the first tsunami wave had hit the coast within 45 minutes of the quake. Authorities evacuated part of the coast and a tsunami warning was issued for all of South and Central America's Pacific coast.

Chile is the world's No. 1 copper producer but key mining firms said there was no serious damage to their operations.

In 2010, an 8.8-magnitude quake triggered a tsunami that devastated several coastal towns in central-south Chile, a disaster that killed 526 people.

Chile's ONEMI emergency office said late on Tuesday that landslides were partially blocking some roads and highways, and local radio stations said power went out in Iquique, but the government said it had no reports of deaths or injuries.

Iquique is a key copper exporting port, close to Chile's main copper mines. State-owned miner Codelco reported no harm to its workers or mines, and said its operations in northern Chile were normal.

Mining company BHP Billiton said it had not received reports of damage to mines.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that the coasts of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua were also at risk.

"An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours," it said.

Authorities in Peru started evacuating communities in the southern coastal region of Ica, RPP radio reported.

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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