8.8 Magnitude earthquake hits Chili

Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 08:22 am

(CNN) -- A massive magnitude 8.8 earthquake rocked Chile early Saturday, killing at least 78 people and triggering tsunami warnings for the entire Pacific basin.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said she expected the death toll to rise.

"We are taking all the necessary measures at this time," she told reporters.

Officials did not give any information on the number of those injured. The full extent of the damage was not yet known, although there were reports of collapsed buildings and hundreds of people in the streets.

The capital of Santiago lost electricity and basic services including water and telephones. Bachelet said regional hospitals had suffered damage; some were evacuated. A major bridge connecting northern and southern Chile was rendered inoperable, and the Santiago airport was shut down for at least the next 24 hours.

Chilean television showed buildings in tatters in Concepcion, with whole sides torn off. At least two buildings there were engulfed in flames, and roads in the city were broken up, video showed.

Television Nacional de Chile reported that only three stories of a 15-story building remained standing.

Numerous aftershocks -- including one of magnitude 6.9 -- were felt within hours of the initial quake, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

"There are really aftershocks like every hour," said Felipe Baytelman, speaking to CNN from Santiago.

The quake's epicenter was located off the coast of Maule, about 200 miles southwest of Santiago. It struck at 3:34 a.m. (1:34 a.m. ET), when most people were sleeping.

Jolted out of bed

"This is a major event. This happened near some very populated areas," said Randy Baldwin, a geophysicist with USGS. "With an 8.8 you expect damage to the population in the area."

The earth's rumbling was felt by millions in Chile and in parts of Argentina, as well. Some buildings in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, were evacuated.

iReport.com: Did you feel it? Share information, images with CNN

Bachelet declared areas of catastrophe, similar to a state of emergency, that will allow her to rush in aid. She said the town of Chillan -- which was destroyed by a killer quake in 1939 -- was one of the worst affected.

Video: Huge quake hits Chile

Video: 8.8 quake hits Chile

Measuring earthquakes
U.S. Geological Survey
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning, the highest level of a tsunami alert, for the entire Pacific region, including Hawaii and places as far away as Russia and Japan.

Follow tsunami warning information

California and Alaska are under a tsunami advisory.

"An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours," the National Weather Service said in a statement.

USGS geophysicist Victor Sardina said several tsunami waves had come ashore along the Chilean coast; the largest was recorded at 9 feet near the quake's epicenter.

"I urge people in coastal zones to move to higher ground," Bachelet said at a morning news conference.

The earliest estimated arrival for a wave that could affect Hawaii was 12:46 a.m. local time (6:46 p.m. ET). But evacuations of coastal areas were to begin at 6 a.m. (12 p.m. ET).

Saturday's quake comes just a few weeks after an earthquake devastated parts of Haiti. That quake was magnitude 7.0. The Chilean quake, at magnitude 8.8, was a thousand times stronger. An earthquake displaces 64 times more energy for each additional point on the magnitude scale.

Check out the world's biggest earthquakes since 1900

The full extent of the damage was not yet known, although there were reports of collapsed buildings and hundreds of people in the streets. The ceiling of a parking lot in the fashionable Las Condes neighborhood of Santiago came crashing down, crushing at least 50 cars.

CNN showed pictures from TV Nacional, a 24-hour network that broadcasts across the country. CNN Chile has suffered damage to its broadcast facilities, although it is still actively newsgathering.

Santiago resident Leo Perioto jumped out of bed in his apartment at the top of a six-story building.

"The whole building was shaking," he said. "The windows were wobbling a lot. We could feel the walls moving from side to side."

Glass shattered at the Santiago Marriott Hotel, but there appeared to be no structural damage, said Alessandro Perez.

Anita Herrera at the Hotel Kennedy in Santiago said electricity was out and guests were nervous.

"Our hotel is built for this," she said. "In Chile this happens many times."

The U.S. State Department said all its personnel were accounted for, and that no decision has been made about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's planned trip next week to five Latin American countries, including Chile.

Coastal Chile has a history of deadly earthquakes, according to the USGS. Since 1973, there have been 13 quakes of magnitude 7.0 or higher.

Saturday's epicenter was just a few miles north of the largest earthquake recorded in the world: a magnitude 9.5 quake in May 1960 that killed 1,655 and unleashed a tsunami that crossed the Pacific.

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Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 08:41 am
Ill forego the obvious attempt at divergent spelling to only say that this is gonna be bad. I was through Concepcion last year on the way to our field site in the alto pana of Argentina and I was amazed at how shitty the construction was in an area that is earthquake prone. Im afraid that this is gonna be as bad as Haiti
Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 09:35 am
Chai's spelling was inadvertant. She lives in Texas and is surrounded by chili.

I am trying to reach one of my uncles. He visited Santiago in December. I hope he is back in Germany. His phone line is constantly busy. He may be talking to his computer science colleagues who teach at the university there.
Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 09:37 am
One of my student's family is from Chile.... Santiago. I hope they're ok.
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Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 10:20 am
By 5pm ET we should know how bad the tsunami's are in Hawaii. That'll give some warning to Japan and other pacific areas.
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Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 12:13 pm
wandeljw wrote:

Chai's spelling was inadvertant. She lives in Texas and is surrounded by chili.


wish I could change the thread title, didn't realize I misspelled.

Just got back home and haven't had the time to look at the news.
I hope all people are evactuated from areas that will hit by the wave. Of course there will sadly always be people who refuse to leave, or are unaware.

Not forgetting the lives lost/will be lost, damage done etc....

On the side of curiosity, I'm hoping there will be some good footage of what the wave will look like as it rises up, once it hit's shallow water.

I've never been able to really picture in my mind what that would look like.

Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 12:18 pm
wandeljw wrote:

Chai's spelling was inadvertant. She lives in Texas and is surrounded by chili.

lol - what's your excuse?
Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 01:06 pm
the HAwaiian beaches have a rel short off shore slope component since the islands rise fairly abruptly from the deep seabed. There wont be as much "fetch" that a really long continental slope would present to concentrate the energy. I think thats gonna be good for Hawaii.
Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 02:09 pm
I posted a link with photos about past Hawaiian tsunamis in the other Chile quake thread that will be of interest to you.
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Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 02:09 pm
And Sglas and Andy live on top of a volcano. Not that that is always a good thing, either.
Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 04:40 pm
There are several bays and embayments that could refract waves and form seiche activity where a series of waves reinforce each other and form successively higher waves at the end of the long axis of the bay
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