Monday 19 August 2019

Thousands evacuate after Chile quake tsunami warning

Traffic negotiates a road damaged by the quake at Chadmo, on Chiloé Island in southern Chile. Photo: Reuters
Traffic negotiates a road damaged by the quake at Chadmo, on Chiloé Island in southern Chile. Photo: Reuters

Felipe Iturrieta Santiago

Officials removed a tsunami warning after a major 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck southern Chile yesterday, prompting thousands to evacuate coastal areas.

The US-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said the tsunami warning was lifted after earlier issuing one for areas within 1,000km of the epicentre of the quake 225km south-west of Puerto Montt.

Chile's national emergency services (Onemi) chief Ricardo Toro said a tsunami watch remained in place, and reiterated his call for Los Lagos residents to abandon beaches and go to higher ground. Mr Toro said no fatalities had been reported.

Onemi said approximately 4,000 people had evacuated the Los Lagos area.

The quake's depth was about 34.6km, the US Geological Survey said. The quake was felt in the south-west Argentine city of Bariloche.

Chile is the world's leading copper producer, but there were no major mines located near the zone affected by the earthquake.

Chile's state-run oil company ENAP said its Bio Bio refinery in southern Chile was operating normally. The Puerto Montt airport was operating normally, a spokesman said.

Fishing and agriculture company Empresas AquaChile SA said its employees in the watch zone had been evacuated and were safe.

Alamiro Vera, owner of the Cabanas Hotel in the southern port city of Quellón, said the quake was strong, but did not see any structural damage.

"There was a lot of movement here, but besides that nothing of note, there weren't houses falling," Mr Vera said. "It was just scary, and some things inside fell."

Chile has a long history of deadly quakes, including a 8.8 magnitude quake in 2010 off the south-central coast, which also triggered a tsunami that devastated coastal towns.

Irish Independent

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