Tue, 19 Feb 2019
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Two people dead after quake strikes north-central Chile

By Sheetal Sukhija, Barbados News
21 Jan 2019, 07:57 GMT+10

COQUIMBO, Chile - The U.S. Geological Survey said that the coast of north-central Chile was struck by a powerful magnitude 6.7 earthquake on Saturday night, causing major damage.

According to the U.S.G.S., the quake struck about 16 km (10 miles) south-southwest of Coquimbo, at 10.32 pm (0132 GMT Sunday), leaving several buildings in the area damaged.

Chiles Seismological Service measured the quake at magnitude 6.8 and authorities in the region affected said that hundreds of thousands of people were without power on Sunday, after the quake knocked out power lines.

Ricardo Toro, Director of the National Office of Emergencies (ONEMI), said, "Thousands of homes lost power, which showed how intense the quake was."

Following the quake, which was measured 53 km (33 miles) below the surface, Chiles National Emergency Office ordered a mass evacuation of coastal areas, fearing a potential tsunami.

However, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center ruled out the possibility of a tsunami in the aftermath of the quake.

On Sunday, police in the coastal city of La Serena confirmed that two people had died and that the quake had caused landslides in the region's mountainous terrain.

According to officials quoted in local reports, the quake shook homes and knocked out a major power station.

It left as many as 200,000 without people but some reports claimed that electricity was restored to most of the region overnight.

The police added that an elderly man and a woman died of cardiac arrest and their deaths are believed to be associated with the earthquake.

Older buildings in the popular Pacific coast beach town of La Serena city were said to have been damaged due to the shaking caused by the quake.

The quake was reportedly felt in Valparaiso, OHiggins; the region of the capital Santiago; and in Atacama and Coquimbo.

Chile lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire - a geological disaster zone in the Pacific that has seismically active tectonic plates.

The series of fragile fault lines that form the Ring of Fire stretch 25,000 miles from New Zealand, across the east coast of Asia through Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan, over to Alaska, Canada and the U.S. West Coast then down to the southern tip of South America.

The Ring of Fire contains 452 volcanoes and several tectonic plates in the earths crust, with more than half of the worlds active volcanoes above sea level being part of the ring, while about 90 percent of the world's earthquakes take place along the arc of fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

Chile, which is one of the most seismic countries in the world, was most recently struck by a powerful magnitude 7.6 earthquake that caused major damage.

The quake struck the southern part of the country in August last year and forced thousands of people to evacuate the coastal area in the region.

Chile's Navy had to close eight small ports in the area and the quake damaged roads and bridges.

In 2015, the region was struck by a massive quake measuring magnitude 8.3, which was followed by a devastating tsunami that claimed 15 lives in the northern part of the country.

Among the most devastating quakes to strike the region was the magnitude 8.8 quake that hit the region's south-central coast in 2010, triggering a tsunami that wreaked havoc on coastal towns and killed 525 people and left 26 others missing.

The country recorded its strongest ever earthquake on May 22, 1960, when a magnitude 9.5 quake struck off the coast of central Chile.

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