Massive 8.3 Earthquake Rocks Chile, Tsunami Warnings In California, Hawaii

Chile has been hit with another massive earthquake.

The 8.3 magnitude (8.4 according to Chilean officials) tremor hit at about 7:54 local time off the coast and prompted tsunami warnings in several countries. It also produced several aftershocks of magnitude 6.0 and higher.

According to the BBC, the earthquake was about 144 miles northwest from the Chile’s capital of Santiago where it caused buildings to sway. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that it produced tsunami waves 15 feet high in the Coquimbo region. Similar waves could be heading out to other countries soon.

The Guardian reports that tsunami warnings have been issued in Hawaii and parts of California.

Likewise, New Zealand went into “precautionary mode.”

The California warning stated, “A tsunami capable of producing strong currents or waves dangerous to persons in or very near the water is expected.”

Adding that swimmers, boats, and even coastal structures could be at risk, and the first wave might not be the strongest.

As for Hawaii, officials say that despite the advisory, they are not expecting a “major tsunami.”

Images are also coming through social media, showing some of the devastation in Chile.

Illapel’s mayor Denis Cortes confirmed that one woman in his city had been killed according to the Associated Press, but he declined to give any details. He also said hat the earthquake knocked out the power.

“We are very scared. Our city panicked.”

Likewise in Coquimbo, the city has reportedly started to flood and 95 percent of the residents lost power, but many of them managed to evacuate. State Department spokesman John Kirby says the U.S. is ready to provide any help required.

Chile has long been a hotspot for deadly seismic activity. In February, 2010, an 8.8 earthquake killed more than 500 people and leveled about 220,000 buildings (some of that destruction was captured in the image above.) The AP reports that quake was so massive that it shortened the length of Earth’s day by a small fraction of a second.

That event prompted the government to establish better early warning systems both for tsunamis and earthquakes.

Chile was also the home of the biggest earthquake in recorded history in 1960, which was a magnitude 9.5 that killed 5,000 people.

[Image Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images]