At least five people were reported killed following a powerful earthquake off Chile’s coast Wednesday night. The quake triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific, from California and Hawaii to New Zealand.
Chile’s government ordered a million people to evacuate their homes on the coast, fearing a repeat of a 2010 earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 500. But fears of a devastating tsunami in Chile eased Thursday morning, and the alert was rescinded.
The most heavily affected area was about 175 miles south of Chile’s capital, Santiago. Heavy flooding damaged buildings in coastal towns and knocked out power.
Chile’s president Michelle Bachelet said she would travel to the worst-hit parts of the coast once daylight arrives.
Referring to past earthquakes, Bachelet said in a televised statement, “Once again we’re having to deal with another harsh blow from nature.”
Tsunami advisories were issued by Hawaii, California and French Polynesia.
The Associated Press reports:
“The Honolulu Department of Emergency Management said people should stay out of the ocean from 3-7 a.m., and the U.S. Coast Guard urged caution.
“‘The public is advised to use extreme caution and prepare for a tsunami wave forecasted to generate strong currents and surf throughout the main Hawaii Islands,” the Coast Guard said.
“A similar advisory was issued for southern and central California, affecting about 300 miles of coastline stretching from the southern end of Orange County to most of San Luis Obispo County on the central coast.”