7.6-magnitude aftershock rocks Chile

Last updated 18:01 03/04/2014

A powerful new 7.6-magnitude earthquake has struck off northern Chile, prompting tsunami alerts and evacuations along the coast and in neighboring Peru. Sarah Toms reports.

Earthquake off Chile sparks tsunami

REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado Zoom
People walk next to a crack along a damaged road leading to Alto Hospicio commune, after a series of aftershocks, in the northern port of Iquique April 3, 2014.

Chileans survey quake damage

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Chile has been rocked by a powerful 7.6-magnitude aftershock that shook buildings, rattled nerves and forced the evacuation of President Michelle Bachelet from her hotel room in the northern city of Arica.

A tsunami warning was issued and then cancelled after waves only reached a height of 0.7 metres. There were no reports of casualties or damage to infrastructure, Chile's Onemi emergency office said.

The aftershock caused buildings to shake and people to run out into the streets in the port of Iquique, which was one of the cities that saw some damage from Tuesday night's big quake. But there were no immediate reports of new damage or injuries from the latest tremor, which was one of dozens that have followed the 8.2 quake.

President Bachelet had been visiting the area assessing damages after Tuesday's quake. An evacuation of low-lying areas on the northern coast means many people could be spending another sleepless night away from their homes.

The aftershock was centered 23 kilometres south of Iquique. The US Geological Society said the aftershock had a depth of 20 kilometers.

It was felt across the border in southern Peru, where people in the cities of Tacna and Arequipa reportedly fled buildings in fear.

Authorities reported just six deaths from the 8.2-magnitude quake. It was possible others could have been killed in older structures made of adobe in remote communities that weren’t immediately accessible, but it was still a very low toll for such a powerful shift in the undersea fault that runs along the length of South America’s Pacific coast.

Chile is one of the world’s most seismic countries and is particularly prone to tsunamis, because of the way the Nazca tectonic plate plunges beneath the South American plate, pushing the towering Andes cordillera ever higher.

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- AP


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