Chile is a country prone to natural disaster. With nearly 2,000 miles of coast and little inland, it is already wide open to tsunamis; but the country is also on the top of volatile fault lines. Hundreds of small-scale earthquakes occur in Chile throughout the year, with a few that cause major damage. Every few years, there is one that kills dozens — sometimes even thousands.
While not near the levels of some of the most destructive, a strong 6.4 earthquake occurred in the north of the seaport town of Valparaíso on Saturday evening, reported international news agency Reuters. There are currently no official reports of any heavy damage, but all the same Chileans are shaken, unable to get rid of the nervous memory of especially strong earthquakes that have occurred in the past. Chilean citizens felt the quake as far as the south of the country — including in the capital city of Santiago. Even Argentinians to the immediate east of the border reported tremors.
Although citizens of Vaparaíso did not face widespread damage, a few services will be out of their reach for a few days. The city’s subway system will remain closed for around 24 hours to prevent any accidents, reported Chilean paper Bio Bio. The paper also reported that nearly 100,000 citizens would remain without light and telephone service in the region. Chile’s Ministry of the Interior recommended that citizens use Internet applications such as Whatsapp and Facebook to communicate during this time.
Chile’s earthquakes are a problem that the country will probably never be able to rectify. In 2010, an 8.8 earthquake destroyed nearly 220,000 homes and took the lives of hundreds of Chileans. Its largest earthquake on record occurred in 1960, when a 9.5-magnitude quake killed more than 5,000 people. The most recent earthquake occurred near the northern Chilean city of Iquique this April. Thousands were left homeless and without electricity and water.
Chilean scientists recently released a report where they presented early signs that the Iquique earthquake was set to occur, according to their posted in the journal Science. Reluctantly, this correct prediction makes the scientists propose that an even worse earthquake in Chile is on the horizon within the next few years, one that they think could hit the same levels as the 2010 earthquake or even higher, according to Chilean English-language daily The Santiago Times. Marcela Sánchez, a geophysics professor at the Universidad Catolica’s Geography Institute, explained her concerns.
This is not the earthquake we were expecting, in terms of size and magnitude. There is a lot of energy that has been growing for over a century that has not been released.
[Image via Flickr]