A strong 8.2-magnitude earthquake has struck off the northwestern coast of Chile, killing at least five people and setting off a small tsunami that prompted evacuations along the country's Pacific coast.
The U.S. Geological Survey says the earthquake was centered about 100 kilometers northwest of Iquique Tuesday evening. Several aftershocks followed, including one measuring 6.2-magnitude.
Chilean authorities said waves measuring about two meters were striking cities along the coast. Officials quickly ordered evacuations, warning that larger waves are expected later.
Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo says at least five people died after being crushed by collapsing walls or experiencing heart attacks. He also said about 300 inmates escaped a woman's prison in Iquique. He said troops have been deployed to prevent looting.
Though there have been no reports of widespread damage, Chile's emergency office said landslides are partially blocking some roads and highways. Thousands also experienced power outages, while others were forced to spend the night outside.
A tsunami alert has been issued for the entire Pacific coast of Central and South America.
U.S. officials say they have found no imminent threat of a damaging tsunami along the coasts of Hawaii, Alaska, California, Oregon or Washington state, but the danger is still under evaluation.
Chile is one of the world's most earthquake prone countries. In 2010, a 8.8-magnitude quake rocked central Chile, killing over 500 people and destroying 220,000 homes.
The region hit by Tuesday's quake had also experienced several smaller temblors in recent days, including a 6.0-magnitude earthquake on Sunday.