– Chile: coast evacuated after strong earthquake hits (Guardian, March 17, 2014):
A strong 6.7-magnitude earthquake shook Chile’s northern Pacific shore on Sunday, and authorities said more than 100,000 people were evacuated from some coastal areas as a precaution. Only minor damage was reported.
The US Geological Survey originally reported the quake at a 7.0 magnitude but later downgraded it. The tremor struck offshore at 4.16pm at a depth of 20km. Its epicentre was 60km northwest of the Chilean port of Iquique.
The USGS said that was followed by a 6.2-magnitude quake, one of 5.1 and three of 4.9.
Chile’s navy said there had been a possibility of a minor tsunami between the northern towns of Arica and Tocopilla, so authorities urged people to evacuate along a stretch of coast where the Arica and Parinacota region adjoins the Tarapaca region.
There did not appear to be a threat of a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami. Franz Schmauck, Arica and Parinacota regional director of Chile’s ONEMI emergency services office, told state TV that no damage was registered except for broken windows on some homes.
ONEMI’s national director, Ricardo Toro, told reporters later that about 80,000 people were evacuated in the Tarapaca region, 3,000 in Arica and Parinacota region and 22,000 in Antofagasta region. He said the sea had risen only about 32 centimetres (almost 13 inches).
“We had a fright but we’re constantly monitoring,” Arica and Parinacota Gov. Emilio Rodríguez said.
Chile is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries. A magnitude-8.8 quake and the tsunami it unleashed in 2010 killed more than 500 people and destroyed 220,000 homes, riverfronts and seaside resorts.
The strongest earthquake ever recorded also happened in Chile, a magnitude-9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people.