Six killed in magnitude-8.8 earthquake in Chile

Saturday, February 27, 2010

SANTIAGO - At least six people were killed in a massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck central Chile Saturday near the country’s second-largest city, authorities said.

The quake hit at 3:34 a.m. (1204 IST) in the Pacific, 90 km north-east of Concepcion, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. It occurred at a depth of about 60 km.

President Michelle Bachelet said at least six people were killed, and the death toll could rise. Telephone and power lines were down, making it difficult to gauge the extent of damage and loss of life.

Local media reported that buildings had been damaged in Santiago, located about 320 km north of the epicentre.

One of the victims was killed by a building collapse in the Araucania region, Interior Ministry official Patricio Rosende told a television news station earlier.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued a warning for Chile and Peru, and a less-urgent tsunami watch for Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Antarctica.

The USGS revised earlier measures of magnitude from 8.5 and 8.3 to 8.8 on the Richter scale.

Reports were slow in coming from the zone nearest the epicentre due to the loss of phone lines and electricity. Residents of Santiago said the quake shook the capital, and temporarily cut electricity and water supply.

The earthquake was reportedly felt as far away as Argentina.

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