Thursday, September 17, 2015

Chile Earthquake Triggers Tsunami Wave

September 17, 2015 9:16 am

Chile earthquake triggers tsunami waves

A magnitude 8.3 earthquake off the coast of Chile has forced more than 1m people to seek shelter from tsunami waves that flooded some coastal areas.



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The quake, which struck on Wednesday evening, killed at least eight people and was felt in the capital Santiago, 280km to the south. It triggered waves of up to 4.5 metres in the coastal town of Coquimbo, the worst affected area, left thousands without water or electricity and closed roads and public transport across the north of the country.
The toll may rise, since phone networks are still down in some areas.
It is the biggest quake to hit Chile since 2010, when a devastating magnitude 8.8 earthquake triggered tsunami waves that killed more than 500 people. The Chilean government, which faced criticism for its response then, has since performed drills and worked hard to increase public awareness.
The speed of the authorities’ reaction on Wednesday in evacuating 1m people and the absence of any serious damage show how well prepared the earthquake-prone nation now is to deal with powerful natural disasters, with most of its nationwide infrastructure, including electricity and telecommunications, functioning normally.
“Once again we must confront a powerful blow from nature,” Michelle Bachelet, president, said in a televised address. The government said it would declare disaster zones where needed to streamline aid to those affected, but that it did not yet see a need to declare a state of emergency. It has now lifted tsunami warnings across the country.
Ms Bachelet is to visit the quake zone.
Codelco, the state-owned copper miner, said it had suspended operations at its Andina mine and evacuated workers from its Ventanas smelter. Antofagasta, the London-listed miner, said it had halted operations at the Los Pelambres copper mine and would assess any damage once daybreak came. Copper prices on the London Metal Exchange hit two-month highs in early trading on fears of disruption to supply.
map: Chile earthquake
The US Geological Survey has recorded a series of aftershocks and a Pacific-wide tsunami warning predicts that waves could rise more than three metres above tide level in Chile and between one and three metres above the tide in French Polynesia. Elsewhere, the impact is expected to be less severe, but waves could reach up to one metre above tide level as far away as New Zealand.
Many Chileans would have been travelling to the coast for a week of national holiday that begins on Friday.
A live CNN broadcast showed the moment the quake hit in Santiago, while photos posted on social media showed debris strewn across the streets of coastal towns, homes damaged by flooding and families crowded on higher ground spending the night watching the sea.
Chile has a long history of massive earthquakes, including the largest on record, the 1960 quake of magnitude 9.5.
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