An 8.2 magnitude earthquake that hit off the coast of northern Chile at 8:46pm has reportedly generated a tsunami, resulting in an order by the National Emergency Office in Chile to evacuate the coastline. The government has stated that there have been no immediate reports of injuries or deaths. The earthquake was initially reported as an 8.0 magnitude and was later revised to 8.2.
According to CNN, the powerful earthquake was centered around 60 miles northwest of the port city of Iquique, Chile at a depth of 12.5 miles. The city has suffered a loss of power and some roads and highways are reportedly being blocked due to landslides. Chile is located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, where approximately 90% of the Earth’s earthquakes occur.
Tsunami warnings are currently in effect for Chile, Peru, and Ecuador while tsunami watches have been issued in Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica. While data is still being evaluated for potential impact in Hawaii, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says that the earliest estimated arrival would be 3:24pm on Wednesday, April 3. Danger levels are also being determined for Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, and British Columbia. According to the Center, “An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours.”
The area in Chile has been shaken by numerous earthquakes over the past two weeks. Tsunami waves measuring more than six feet washed ashore in Pisagua, Chile approximately 45 minutes after the earthquake occurred. The Chile earthquake was felt in neighboring countries Bolivia and Peru.
An earthquake of such magnitude has the potential to do devastating damage, as many can recall from the 2011 Tohoku 9.0 earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan, resulting in $235 billion in damage and nearly 16,000 deaths. The Tohoku quake also resulted in damage to the nuclear plants in Fukushima and left 4.4 million people without electricity.
The people of Chile are no strangers to earthquakes, and footage of coastal towns broadcast by CNN Chile showed people evacuating calmly and efficiently. They do, however, understandably remain on edge, as Chile has been hit by a number of large magnitude earthquakes over the years, including the most powerful earthquake recorded on Earth, a 9.5 magnitude quake that occurred in 1960.
Los Angeles has also been subjected to numerous earthquakes in the last two weeks, including a 5.1 magnitude earthquake just two days ago centered in La Habra.