Tags: terror | quake | chile | fear

Night of Terror as Quake Shakes Chileans

Saturday, 27 Feb 2010 12:13 PM

SANTIAGO - Chileans spoke of a night of terror Saturday after being violently shaken hours before dawn by a massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake that has killed at least 122 people, and triggered a tsunami.

"It was the worst experience of my life," said 22-year-old Sebastian, standing outside his house in eastern Santiago, where residents fled their homes in panic after the quake shook the ground for almost two minutes starting around 3:34 am (0634 GMT).

An AFP correspondent said buildings in the capital "shook like jelly."

"Is everybody all right?" neighbors asked each other amid tears of disbelief, as families scrambled to call and check on their loved ones.

Immediate power outages made a desperate situation worse after the quake snapped powerlines.

"It was scary! Plaster began falling from the ceiling. My dogs freaked out," said UN demography expert Maren Andrea Jimenez, an American who has lived in Santiago for nearly three years.

Awoken residents joined hundreds of revellers spilling out from bars onto the streets of central Santiago, she said.

"I ran out and found everyone was totally drunk. Friends who were at clubs said it was pandemonium," Jimenez said.

"The whole time, the ground has been rumbling."

US authorities reported some 34 aftershocks have shaken Santiago since the earthquake hit.

Most houses in the capital, some 325 kilometers (200 miles) northeast of the epicenter, appeared relatively undamaged from the outside, but the interior of many buildings showed evidence of the violent impact, with toppled appliances, shaken belongings and cracks ripping up walls.

Santiago and its six million residents withstood the quake fairly well, according to authorities, although some major churches in the city center and the international airport sustained serious damage.

But even government workers said they were still unable to contact places around the quake's epicenter, while a dearth of official reports described "nightmarish scenes" with entire towns destroyed.

Earthquake-prone Chile lies along the Pacific "Rim of Fire" and is regularly rocked by quakes, but damage is often limited as they mostly hit in sparsely populated desert regions.

Television images from parts of Concepcion however showed fallen bridges, destroyed or heavily damaged buildings and debris-strewn streets in the half million-strong city, the largest urban area closest to the epicenter.

Reports also showed cracked roads and cars upended or hanging precariously off overpasses.

A fire was also raging in a huge warehouse.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.



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SANTIAGO - Chileans spoke of a night of terror Saturday after being violently shaken hours before dawn by a massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake that has killed at least 122 people, and triggered a tsunami.
terror,quake,chile,fear
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2010-13-27
Saturday, 27 Feb 2010 12:13 PM
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