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1 million evacuated as 8.3 earthquake kills 5 in Chile
« on: September 17, 2015, 09:07:05 AM »

A tsunami warning has been issued after an 8.3 earthquake hit the coast of central Chile, with the Chilean authorities issuing a tsunami warning for its entire coastline.

The earthquake was so strong that people in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Peru and Brazil reported feeling the tremors. No injuries were reported outside Chile.

So far, a total of five people were reported killed with one person listed as missing, Associated Press reports. Another 1 million people were evacuated from affected coastal areas.

The coastal town of Coquimbo was hit by waves of up to 4.5 meters after the earthquake. "We're going through a really grave situation with the tsunami. We have residential neighbourhoods that have flooded ... the ocean has reached the [Coquimbo] downtown area," Coquimbo Mayor Christian Galleguillos said, according to Reuters.

Q13Fox said that large tsunami waves have been observed along the Chilean coast while in Coquimbo, a wave measuring more than 15 feet was seen, according to the US National Tsunami Warning Centre.

Denis Cortes, the mayor if Illapel, which is near the epicentre of the earthquake, said over a radio broadcast that a woman had been killed by a collapsing wall. Another seven were injured, three of whom are in serious condition, according to Q13 Fox.

The full extent of the damage is still not known. There is no power in the city. "We are very scared. Our city panicked," Cortes said, according to AP.

The earthquake hit the coast of central Chile, about 246km (153 miles) north-west of the capital of Santiago. According to a preliminary assessment from the US Geological Survey, the quake's epicentre was about 54km west of Illapel and had a depth of 33km.

In La Serena, which is located next to the epicentre of the quake, 24-year-old Ricardo Toledo  was playing football when the first quake struck. He had trouble maintaining his balance during the four minutes that the tremors lasted.

"Once the quakes subsided, I headed to higher ground and tried to contact my family," the medical student said, adding that the city was hit by several large aftershocks. He has been following the news after reuniting with his younger brother and mother.

His mother, Nury Rojas Villarreal, 58, who was working at a liquor store when the earthquake struck "It felt very strong. Bottles fell and the noise was very loud. I went out to the street where it was less dangerous and waited for the quake to pass. The tsunami alert immediately began to sound on my mobile phone," she said.

As she was in the evacuation zone, she closed the liquor store and followed others to higher ground. "I was finally brought home by some friends in their truck, where I found my sons safe and sound," she said.


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