Written by Kumudu Jayawardana
02 Apr, 2014 | 1:23 pm
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.
Five people were crushed to death or suffered fatal heart attacks, the interior minister said, but Chile apparently escaped major damage or serious casualties.
The shaking loosed landslides that blocked roads, power failed for thousands, an airport was damaged and several businesses caught fire.
In the city of Arica, 86 miles (139 kilometers) from the quake’s epicenter, hospitals were treating minor injuries, and some homes made of adobe were destroyed and 90 percent of customers were without power, authorities said.
The quake also shook modern buildings in nearby Peru and in Bolivia’s high altitude capital of La Paz.
Hours later, a tsunami warning remained in effect for northern Chile, but alerts were lifted elsewhere.
“We regard the coast line of Chile as still dangerous, so we’re maintaining the warning,” geophysicist Gerard Fryer at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center told The Associated Press.
Chile’s Emergency Office said its tsunami watch would remain in effect for six more hours, meaning hundreds of thousands of people along the coast would not sleep in their beds. Swimmers and surfers in the U.S. state of Hawaii, thousands of miles away in the Pacific, might see higher waves Wednesday, the warning center said.
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