News World Chile earthquake: 10 dead, a million flee

Chile earthquake: 10 dead, a million flee

Frightened people flee a supermarket in Santiago.
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Chile has lifted a tsunami warning it had put in place after Wednesday’s major earthquake that killed at least 10 people, according to an official.

One million people were evacuated after a magnitude-8.3 earthquake struck off the coast of Chile, near the capital of Santiago.

Waves of up to 4.5 metres pounded Chile’s coastline at Coquimbo after the powerful quake struck just before 9am (AEST).

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Several aftershocks hit less than an hour after the initial quake, which was felt as far away as Buenos Aries, in Argentina.

“The tsunami warning is lifted for all national territory,” the government’s National Emergency Office said in a tweet.

The quake shook buildings in Santiago, a city of 6.6 million people who were left panicked in streets lined with damaged buildings.

Women console each other in the street after the quake.
Women console each other in the street after the quake. Photo: Getty

In Chile, more than 135,000 families were left without power in the north-central coast area, the National Emergency Office reported.

“Once again we must confront a powerful blow from nature,” President Michelle Bachelet said in an address to the nation late on Wednesday.

“We are monitoring the affected regions, the level of the damage… all the zones affected will be declared catastrophe zones.”

Operations were suspended at the country’s Codelco and UK-listed Antofagasta copper mines, causing prices of the metal to jump to a two month high.

Authorities worked into the early hours of Thursday assessing damage in several coastal towns that saw flooding from small tsunami waves set off by the quake.

Chile’s government urged residents to evacuate from the coastline.

Seismologists at the University of Chile said the epicentre was located about 500km north of the capital Santiago.

Ripple felt across the world

Coastlines across the Pacific were braced for possible after effects.

A magnitude-4.7 quake was reportedly felt near General Santos, Mindanao in the Philippines, and tsunami warnings were issued for as far away as Hawaii and New Zealand.

Police in Orange County advised residents to stay out of the water, as a tsunami advisory was issued for all OC coastal areas.

Residents carry furniture between debris caused by the sea in the port of Coquimbo.
Residents carry furniture between debris caused by the sea in the port of Coquimbo. Photo: Getty

Although no significant flooding was expected, officials advised of a strong outgoing tide as the tsunami wave arrived.

In New Zealand, authorities urged residents in eastern coastal areas to stay out of the water and off beaches amid expected “unusually strong currents and unpredictable water flows near the shore”.

Peter Coburn, from the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre, said people in the Pacific region should listen to advice from their local authorities.

Australian student caught in chaos

Katie McColl, an Australian student on exchange in the capital, said she sought shelter for an hour under the table in her house.

“So we got under the table and it kept going and it kept going and the house was moving,” she told the ABC.

“Luckily nothing fell or anything like that. So we’re all under the table and it kept going for about two or so minutes, which is a lot longer than they usually go for.”

In April 2014, a magnitude 8.2 earthquake in northern Chile killed six people and forced a million to leave their homes in the region around Iquique.

An earthquake measuring magnitude 8.8 struck off the coast of Chile’s Maule region on February 27, 2010.

It killed more than 500 people and inflicted an estimated $30 billion in damages.

with AAP and reporting by Kaitlin Thals and Emma Manser

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