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8.2-magnitude earthquake hits near northern Chile; 5 dead

An earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2 struck in the Pacific Ocean near the northern coast of Chile on Tuesday.
April 1, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
An earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2 struck in the Pacific Ocean near the northern coast of Chile on Tuesday, killing at least five people, according to the country's interior minister.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake, which was originally reported as an 8.0, struck 59 miles northwest of Iquique, Chile, at 8:46 p.m. local time. All coastal zones of Chile were evacuated due to tsunami concerns.

A tsunami warning was issued for Chile, Peru and Ecuador shortly after the quake, but it has since been canceled. Waves measuring almost 6 ? feet were striking cities on the coast.

U.S. officials say they found no threat of a tsunami along the coasts of Alaska, California, Oregon or Washington. But a tsunami advisory was issued for Hawaii with the estimated time of arrival for the first wave at 3:24 a.m. local time. Residents there were told to stay out of the ocean. According to ABC News, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says it doesn't not "does not expect it to be catastrophic." They are just "exercising a healthy amount of caution."

Chile's Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo attributed the five deaths to heart attacks or being crushed. The quake shook buildings in parts of the nearby nations of Bolivia and Peru.

The shaking caused landslides that blocked roads, power failed for thousands, an airport was damaged and several businesses caught fire. About 300 inmates escaped from a women's prison in the city of Iquique.

The area has apparently been hit by numerous earthquakes lately. More than 300 have struck the area in the past week.

The activity began with a strong magnitude-6.7 quake on March 16 that caused more than 100,000 people to briefly evacuate low-lying areas. No tsunami materialized from that quake and there was little physical damage from the shaking.

Caltech professor Pablo Ampuero says since Tuesday's quake struck in the water, it didn't feel like an 8.2 on land. He says it actually felt similar to what people experienced in La Habra on Friday night when a 5.1 quake struck.

"The shaking was felt with an intensity of 6. That's also the same intensity that was felt last Friday in the epicenter area of the earthquake that happened here in Southern California. Only the difference in Chile is intensity 6 was felt over a much broader area and it affected hundreds of thousands of people," said Ampuero.

Chile is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries. A magnitude-8.8 quake and ensuing tsunami in central Chile in 2010 killed more than 500 people and destroyed 220,000 homes.

The strongest earthquake ever recorded on Earth - a magnitude 9.5 - also happened in Chile in 1960. That quake killed more than 5,000 people.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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