Death rises to eleven after Chile earthquake as aftershocks

Shaken by dozens of aftershocks after strong earthquake toppled buildings in Chile, at least eleven people dead, many forced evacuation

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Sep 18, 2015

Following the massive earthquake that struck Chile on Wednesday, eleven people are now confirmed dead and more than 1 million people had to evacuate, according to the Interior Ministry's National Emergency Office (ONEMI).

The ONEMI announced that a million people had been evacuated from their homes following the8.3-magnitude earthquake.

According to the US Geographic Survey, the earthquake struck 46 kilometres (29 miles) west of the Coquimbo region in the city of Illapel, and 229 kilometers (142 miles) north-northwest of the capital, Santiago, at 7.54 pm local time (2254 GMT) on Wednesday.

Emergency services said that three people died of heart attacks while at least two of the fatalities and dozens of injuries were caused by falling rocks and walls.

After the authorities declared a nationwide red tsunami alert and later said that the waves were observed at reaching 4.6 metres in locations near the epicenter, the warning was later lifted in most parts of the region, while Hawaii and the French Polynesia remained on alert.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet visited the most destruct region on Thursday, praised emergency services for their swift response, "all of the areas affected are going to be declared disaster zones... It allows us to facilitate getting help to the families affected," he said.

While witnesses said that the earthquake appeared to continue for a number of minutes and that hundreds of people had run onto the streets in fear. The massive 8.3-magnitude earthquake was felt from 229km (142miles away), causing buildings to sway in Santiago.

Videos of shaking offices and homes were quickly uploaded to social media.

A citizen, Andres Alvares, 32, told Anadolu Agency, "the movement was very slow, but intense at the same time. The earthquake stopped and then started again several times."

Chile is one of the most seismically active regions in the world.

Wednesday's earthquake was the most powerful and deadliest, since a 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck southwest of Santiago in 2010 with 525 death tolls.

The most devastating seismic movement ever recorded in the region was  a massive 9.5-magnitude shock that rocked Chile in 1960, which killed 2,231 victims.

State of emergency in Coquimbo

Chile's government has declared a state of emergency in Coquimbo, the central region struck by the powerful earthquake.

In the coastal town of Coquimbo, where President Michelle Bachelet visited on Thursday, waves of 4.7m (15ft) hit the shore while small tsunami waves hit as far away as Alaska.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) reported the tremor struck off the coast of Coquimbo, 46km (29 miles) west of the city of Illapel at 7:54pm local time (2254 GMT).



TRTWorld and agencies