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Earthquake off Chile triggers tsunami warning

SHERRYLYN TOPPIN, [email protected]

Earthquake off Chile triggers tsunami warning

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SANTIAGO – A magnitude 8.3 earthquake hit off the coast of Chile on Wednesday, shaking buildings in the capital city of Santiago and generating a tsunami warning for Chile, Peru and French Polynesia.

Chile’s government urged residents to evacuate the coastline. The mayor of Illapel, which is near the epicentre, said on a radio broadcast that a 26-year-old woman had been killed by a collapsing wall, and 15 others were reported injured.

The quake hit just 28 miles from Illapel, leaving the city 130 miles north of Santiago without electricity or drinking water. People fled their damaged homes and poured into the streets, the mayor said.

Reuters witnesses said the quake was felt as far away as the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, on the eastern seaboard of South America.

The quake struck 105 miles north of Valparaiso at a depth of 15.5 miles, and was originally reported as magnitude 7.9, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

State copper miner Codelco said that it had evacuated workers from its Ventanas smelter but all its other divisions were operating normally. Antofagasta Plc reported no damage to its flagship Los Pelambres copper mine.

Waves triggered by the earthquake have begun hitting Chile’s coastline, with reports of flooding of streets near the ocean. Waves of less than one metre were expected shortly in Peru, which lifted its tsunami alert.

Tsunami waves of up to three meters are possible for French Polynesia, said the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

Waves of less than one metre were also expected in Hawaii around 3:06 a.m. (Hawaii time) on Thursday, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.

Less than an hour after the initial earthquake, three aftershocks all greater than magnitudes 6.1 struck the region and smaller quakes continue to shake the area, USGS reported. (Reuters)