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Five Dead as Magnitude 8.2 Earthquake Hits Northern Chile

A strong 8.2-magnitude earthquake has killed at least five people in Chile and set off a small tsunami that prompted evacuations along the country's Pacific coast.

The earthquake late Tuesday was centered about 100 kilometers off Chile's northwestern coast, where landslides blocked highways and widespread power outages were reported.

President Michelle Bachelet has declared a state of emergency in the region, but says it is too early to know the full extent of the damage. In a late-night address, she urged citizens to stay calm.



"Appropriate measures have been taken to protect their lives and their belongings. And the government will continue to work all the time that is necessary to confront this emergency and protect our citizens."



Tsunami alerts and evacuation orders have been extended for the northern Chilean coastline, though warnings for the rest of the Pacific coast of Latin America have been lifted.

Waves measuring about two meters hit the Chilean coast in the hours following the quake. No damage from the waves has been reported.



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.

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.

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