Pow­er­ful quake hits south­ern Chile

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Chilean au­thor­i­ties or­dered coastal evac­u­a­tions yes­ter­day fol­low­ing a pow­er­ful Christ­mas Day earth­quake off­shore the south of the coun­try that trig­gered tsunami alerts. The quake reg­is­tered 7.7 on the Mo­ment Mag­ni­tude scale ac­cord­ing to seis­mol­o­gists at the US Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey. Chile’s ONEMI na­tional emer­gen­cies of­fice ONEMI put it at 7.6. The epi­cen­ter was on the south­ern part of Chiloe is­land, in a zone of sev­eral na­tional parks.

The clos­est pop­u­la­tion cen­ter was Cas­tro, a town on the is­land of 40,000 in­hab­i­tants. Chile’s cap­i­tal San­ti­ago was around 1,000 km from the epi­cen­ter. “The earth­quake hit us as we were hav­ing break­fast and we im­me­di­ately ran out of the house be­cause of fears of a tsunami,” one man who took his fam­ily to high ground told Chilean tele­vi­sion. Chilean me­dia tweeted im­ages of roads that had been cracked by the force of the quake. In some cases, part of the bi­tu­men was cleaved away. There were no im­me­di­ate re­ports of ca­su­al­ties, though elec­tric­ity was cut to some com­mu­ni­ties. Tele­phone and in­ter­net con­tin­ued to work.

Fam­i­lies cel­e­brat­ing Christ­mas

The quake struck as Chileans were with their fam­i­lies cel­e­brat­ing Christ­mas. All shops were closed. ONEMI and the USGS both is­sued a tsunami alert. Chilean of­fi­cials called for coastal ar­eas nearby to be evac­u­ated. The Pa­cific Tsunami Warning Cen­ter in Honolulu, Hawaii, said in a bulletin that “haz­ardous tsunamic waves are fore­cast for some coasts.” The quake had a depth of 15 km ac­cord­ing to the PTWC.

Chile is in a quake-prone re­gion, ly­ing on the so-called Pa­cific Ring of Fire of fre­quent seis­mic ac­tiv­ity. As a re­sult, build­ings are usu­ally built to re­sist sway­ing. The last big quake to shake Chile was on Sept 16, 2015, when an 8.3 tem­blor fol­lowed by a tsunami hit the north of the coun­try, killing 15 peo­ple. A coastal evac­u­a­tion or­der had lim­ited the num­ber of ca­su­al­ties. In 2010 an­other quake mea­sur­ing 8.8, also fol­lowed by a tsunami, struck the cen­ter and south of the coun­try, killing more than 500 peo­ple. —AFP

CAS­TRO, Chile: A woman waits in her car to be evac­u­ated due to a tsunami alert on Chile Is­land off the Pa­cific coast of south­ern Chile, af­ter a 7.7-mag­ni­tude earth­quake yes­ter­day. —AFP

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