A magnitude 8.3 earthquake hit off the coast of Chile on Wednesday, shaking
buildings in the capital city of Santiago and flooding some coastal areas under
a tsunami warning.
At least three people were killed by the quake about 280 kilometres north of
Santiago, the biggest earthquake since 2010 to hit the world's top copper
"Once again we're having to deal with another harsh blow from nature.
Unfortunately we've received information that as of now we are certain three
people are confirmed dead," Chile's President Michelle Bachelet said in a
The quake, which was felt as far away as Buenos Aires in Argentina, also
damaged homes, buildings and injured several people. Officials said schools in
most of the country would be closed on Thursday.
from a heart attack, according to media reports.
The coastal town of Coquimbo was hit by waves of up to 4.5 metres after the
earthquake, Chile's navy said.
"We're going through a really grave situation with the tsunami. We have
residential neighbourhoods that have flooded .... the ocean has reached the
[Coquimbo] downtown area," said Coquimbo Mayor Cristian Galleguillos.
The inland city of Illapel, about 46 km from the epicentre, was without
electricity or drinking water. People fled their damaged homes and poured into
the streets, the mayor said.
State copper miner Codelco said it had suspended mining operations at its
Andina mine and that it had evacuated workers from its Ventanas smelter.
Antofagasta Plc said it had halted operations at its flagship Los Pelambres
copper mine and would wait until daybreak to assess damage.
Hawaii, California, French Polynesia and New Zealand.
In February 2010, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake in central-southern Chile
triggered a massive tsunami, and more than 500 people were killed.
In the hours following that quake, Bachelet and other government officials
misjudged the extent of damage and declined offers of international aid. That
delayed the flow of assistance to disaster areas, leaving many survivors feeling
they had been abandoned by the government.
Compounding matters, the Chilean navy's catastrophe-alert system failed to
warn the population of impending tsunamis, leaving hundreds who survived the
initial quake to be engulfed by massive waves that followed.
Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries because just off
the coast, the Nazca tectonic plate plunges beneath the South American plate,
pushing the towering Andes cordillera to ever-higher altitudes.
The strongest earthquake ever recorded on Earth happened in Chile - a
magnitude 9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people.