Quake death toll rises to 11, more aftershocks expected
Friday, September 18, 2015, 7:48 AM - At least 11 people are dead, more than a million residents have been evacuated and over 170 homes are destroyed, after a powerful 8.3 magnitude earthquake struck west of Illapel, Chile late Wednesday.
The deadly disaster could have been worse, according to officials. After surveying the damage, advanced planning and authorities' quick reaction likely saved lives, CNN reports.
"The response to this earthquake has been very efficient, and we took the right measures," President Michelle Bachelet told CNN.
Due to Chile's long history of large earthquakes, authorities have been forced to improve safety measures and have reconstructed buildings to prevail against the force of natural disasters.
The quake generated a nearly 16-foot wave and had a depth of 25 km, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The largest wave to land on the shores of Chile occured in Coquimbo, the U.S. National Tsunami Warning center reports.
Tsunami alerts were issued for the entire coast of Chile, ordering evacuations from Arica to Puerto Aysen. Advisories stretched as far as Hawaii and California. The National Weather Service warned that large waves could reach Hawaii early Thursday morning. By the afternoon, the advisories in the United States were cancelled.
Several affected areas in Chile have been cleared, but much of the coast remains under watch. Illapel sits approximately 280 kilometres north of the capitol Santiago.
The quake was vigorous enough that New Zealand, which is located about 9,600 km away, warned residents that a tsunami could hit parts of the country.
Residents in Chile felt more than a dozen aftershocks of magnitude 4.9 or higher, according to CNN. One aftershock had a magnitude of 7.0. However, it was almost 20 times smaller than the original 8.3 magnitude quake, according to U.S. Geological Survey's "How Much Bigger" calculator. People living in the capitol of Santiago could feel the tremors, about 230 km away from the quake's epicenter.
"Everybody ran outside. The windows rattled. Things fell... The impact was strong," Santiago resident Emily Hersh told CNN. "Even after I stepped outside, I felt the ground moving."
Unfortunately, this is not the end as more aftershocks are expected, according to Randy Baldwin, UGS geophysicist. "They could last for weeks, even into months," he told CNN.
Just north of Coquimbo, about 95 per cent of La Serena's power was knocked out. After President Michelle Bachelet visited, authorities declared a state of emergency in the region. Over 70,000 homes were left without power, CNN reports. Pictures on social media show the quake's destruction in a local mall.
The quake was given a preliminary magnitude of 7.9, but that was quickly revised to 8.3.
Chile is part of the Pacific's "Ring of Fire." The area is prone to seeing many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
The country has had over 12 quakes of magnitude 7.0 or higher since 1973.
The full extent of damages and injuries is not yet known.
MAGNITUDE 4.3 EARTHQUAKE STRIKES CHILE THURSDAY
A magnitude 4.3 earthquake struck the region Thursday evening near Coquimbo, some 300 kilometres east of Wednesday's quake.
"Expect aftershocks," The U.S. Geological Survey says in a Thursday statement.
"These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake."
Video courtesy: Facebook/Andrés Corts
MORE VIDEO: A DECADE OF EARTHQUAKES: