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Massive Chile Quake Kills 10, Prompts Tsunami Warnings

  • VOA News

People walk past destroyed surfing schools on the beach after an earthquake-triggered tsunami in Concon, Chile, Sept. 17, 2015.

People walk past destroyed surfing schools on the beach after an earthquake-triggered tsunami in Concon, Chile, Sept. 17, 2015.

Chilean officials say the death toll has risen to 10 from a powerful 8.3 magnitude earthquake late Wednesday that triggered a widespread tsunami warning.

The quake, which shook northern and central Chile, was centered about 500 kilometers north of the capital, Santiago. It was felt across South America and as far away as Buenos Aires, on the opposite side of the continent.

The earthquake was followed by strong aftershocks, and many people spent the night outside as a precaution. Tsunami warnings stayed in place for hours along Chile's coastline. Other areas as far away as Japan and the U.S. state of Hawaii braced for possible tsunamis or dangerous currents.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who was to travel to the coastal area hit hardest by the quake, appeared on television late Wednesday to address the nation. "Once again we must confront a powerful blow from nature," she said, recalling the 2010 earthquake that took the lives of 500 people and leveled parts of the Chilean city of Concepcion.

A car is surrounded by debris in a flooded street after an earthquake-triggered tsunami hit Concon, Chile, Sept. 17, 2015.

A car is surrounded by debris in a flooded street after an earthquake-triggered tsunami hit Concon, Chile, Sept. 17, 2015.

The earthquake hit just before 8 p.m. local time. Buildings shook in Santiago, and houses collapsed and power was knocked out in the coastal town of Illapel, near the epicenter of the quake.

Tsunami waves struck near the tourist city of Valparaiso, where sirens sounded and people scrambled up hillsides to watch the ocean from a safe distance.

Thousands of people evacuated to safer areas.

The earthquake came just as Chileans were preparing to celebrate their national holiday on Friday.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby has said via Twitter that the United States stands "ready to assist as needed." He said "Our thoughts are with the people of Chile."

Residents sent running into the street after a magnitude-8.3 earthquake sit next to an equestrian statue in the main square of Santiago, Chile, Sept. 16, 2015.

Residents sent running into the street after a magnitude-8.3 earthquake sit next to an equestrian statue in the main square of Santiago, Chile, Sept. 16, 2015.

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