8.8 magnitude earthquake hits Chile, tsunami warning issued for Hawaii
A massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Chile early Saturday. A tsunami warning has been issued for Hawaii.
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Powerful aftershocks rattled Chile's coast - 29 of them magnitude 5 or greater and one reaching magnitude 6.9 - the U.S. Geological Survey reported.Skip to next paragraph
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In Santiago, modern buildings are built to withstand earthquakes, but many older ones were heavily damaged, including the Nuestra Senora de la Providencia church, whose bell tower collapsed. A bridge just outside the capital also collapsed, and at least one car flipped upside down.
Several hospitals were evacuated due to earthquake damage, Bachelet said.
Santiago's airport will remain closed for at least 24 hours after the passenger terminal suffered major damage, airport director Eduardo del Canto told Chilean television. TV images showed smashed windows, partially collapsed ceilings and pedestrian walkways destroyed.
Santiago's subway was shut as well and hundreds of buses were trapped at a terminal by a damaged bridge, Transportation and Telecommunications Minister said. He urged Chileans to make phone calls or travel only when absolutely necessary.
In Concepcion, Chile's second-largest city and only 70 miles (115 kilometers) from the epicenter, nurses and residents pushed the injured through the streets on stretchers. Others walked around in a daze wrapped in blankets, some carrying infants in their arms. A 15-story building collapsed, leaving only a few floors intact.
"I was on the 8th floor and all of a sudden I was down here," said Fernando Abarzua, marveling that he escaped with no major injuries. He said a relative was still trapped in the rubble six hours after the quake, "but he keeps shouting, saying he's OK."
"All the things start to fall. The lamps, everything, was going on the floor," he said. "I felt terrified."
"But then I thought, `Oh, there's no train here.' And then the lamps flew off the dresser and my TV flew off onto the floor and crashed."
"It was very bad. People were screaming. Some people were running, others appeared paralyzed. I was one of them," Julio Alvarez told Radio Cooperativa.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center called for "urgent action to protect lives and property" in Hawaii, which is among 53 nations and territories subject to tsunami warnings.
"Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter and could also be a threat to more distant coasts," the warning center said. It did not expect a tsunami along the west of the U.S. or Canada.
The largest earthquake ever recorded struck the same area of Chile on May 22, 1960. The magnitude-9.5 quake killed 1,655 people and left 2 million homeless. The tsunami that it caused killed people in Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines and caused damage to the west coast of the United States.
Saturday's quake matched a 1906 temblor off the Ecuadorean coast as the seventh-strongest ever recorded in the world.