News / Americas

Chile Assesses Damage After Massive Quake, Tsunami

A rescue worker inspects a car caught under a landslide after an earthquake and tsunami hit the northern port of Iquique, Chile, April 2, 2014.
A rescue worker inspects a car caught under a landslide after an earthquake and tsunami hit the northern port of Iquique, Chile, April 2, 2014.
Reuters
Chilean authorities on Wednesday were assessing the damage from a massive earthquake that struck off the northern coast, causing a small tsunami, but the impact looked mostly limited.
 
Over 900,000 people who evacuated the country's low-lying coastal areas returned home on Wednesday morning after authorities called off a tsunami alarm.
 
The 8.2 magnitude quake that shook northern Chile on Tuesday killed six people and triggered a tsunami that pounded the shore with 2-meter (7-foot) waves.

Authorities evaluated the damage on Wednesday as the ocean waves receded and daylight showed the full extent of the damage.
 
Mines in Chile, the world's No. 1 copper producer, mostly said they were functioning normally.
 
The arid, mineral-rich north is sparsely populated, with most of the population concentrated in the port towns of Iquique and Arica, near the Peruvian border.
 
In Peru, the earthquake led to temporary power outages and evacuations in some southern towns, but did not cause serious damage or injuries.
 
  • An elderly person is evacuated from a shelter after a tsunami alarm at Antofagasta city, north of Santiago on the southern Pacific coast, April 1, 2014.
  • Residents take their belongings to higher ground after a tsunami alarm at Talcahuano city, south of Santiago, April 1, 2014.
  • A fire is seen at Iquique city from the top floor of a building after a tsunami alarm at Iquique city, north of Santiago, April 1, 2014.
  • People embrace on the upper floor of an apartment building located a few blocks from the coast where they gathered to avoid a possible tsunami after an earthquake in Iquique, Chile, April 1, 2014.
  • Locals gather on the street following a tsunami alert after an earthquake hit off Chile's Pacific coast, April 1, 2014.
  • People are evacuated from their shelter after a tsunami alarm at Antofagasta city, north of Santiago, April 1, 2014.
  • Fishermen inspect boats sunk after a small tsunami hit the northern port of Iquique, Chile, April 2, 2014.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet visited Iquique on Wednesday and praised people's orderly response to the emergency.
 
“We are here to recognize the calm behavior of the people of Iquique who showed great civic responsibility, as did those of Arica. I think you have given us all a tremendous example,” she said.
 
The government would put great effort into restoring services, she added.
 
Finance Minister Alberto Arenas said the government would place “no limit on the use of resources to address this emergency.”
 
Bachelet, who was sworn in as president less than a month ago, is likely conscious of the stinging criticism she faced  near the tail-end of her first term in office in 2010, when the government was seen to have responded inadequately to a much bigger 8.8 quake and tsunami that killed over 500 people.
 
Nearly eight times more energy was released in the quake that struck Chile some four years ago, experts say.
 
Damage limited
 
It was too early to estimate financial losses, but they were expected to be much lower than the $30 billion from the 2010 quake, which affected the more densely populated central region, said earthquake expert Alexander Allmann at reinsurer Munich Re.
 
“The quake has caused severe damage to some buildings in the affected region, but in general the building standards in Chile are comparatively high, allowing buildings and infrastructure to withstand such quakes reasonably well,” said Allmann.
 
“The small tsunami triggered by the quake is not expected to have caused significant
damage.”
 
Fishermen inspect the damage caused by an earthquake and tsunami that hit the northern port of Iquique, Chile, April 2, 2014.Fishermen inspect the damage caused by an earthquake and tsunami that hit the northern port of Iquique, Chile, April 2, 2014.
x
Fishermen inspect the damage caused by an earthquake and tsunami that hit the northern port of Iquique, Chile, April 2, 2014.
Fishermen inspect the damage caused by an earthquake and tsunami that hit the northern port of Iquique, Chile, April 2, 2014.
Small fishing vessels in the ports looked to be among the worst affected.
 
“We struggled just to be able to get a bigger boat...and now look at it,” a woman from Iquique's fishing community, in tears, said in a video posted on Reuters.com.
 
Several smaller aftershocks, some as big as 5.2 magnitude, continued into Wednesday.
 
Although the tsunami alert was called off, the navy warned that high waves and strong currents could continue, and some ports in the area remained closed on Wednesday afternoon.
 
Landslides had also blocked eight roads and Iquique's hospital suffered some damage but otherwise most infrastructure was in good shape, emergency office Onemi said.
 
Nearly 300 prisoners took advantage of the emergency on Tuesday night to escape from a female penitentiary in Iquique. Some 131 had since voluntarily returned, Onemi said.
 
Thousands of miles away in Hawaii, residents were warned of possible sea level changes and strong currents that could pose a danger to swimmers and boaters.
 
The big one
 
Chileans live in one of the most earthquake-prone areas of the world. In 1960, southern Chile was hit by a 9.5 quake, the largest in modern history.
 
Residents in the area of the latest quake have been expecting “the big one” for many years. The Nazca and South American tectonic plates rub up against each other just off the coast of Iquique, where a “seismic gap” has been building up.
 
An unusually large number of tremors in the area in recent weeks had led authorities to reinforce emergency procedures, while residents bought rations, and prepared for an eventual evacuation.
 
However, Tuesday's quake was likely not 'the big one' they had anticipated, said Paul Earle, a seismologist at the U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center.
 
“This earthquake was not large enough to release the stress on the whole area where they believe the seismic gap is,” he said.
 
“It's going to take some time to evaluate the effect of this earthquake on that region. But people should stay prepared."

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

Massive Fire Engulfs Mexican Oil Rig, Four Dead

State-run oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) says there is no evidence of a major oil spill following the blast, which injured 16 workers
More

Floods Death Toll Rises in Chile, President Cancels Trips

Freak torrential downpours in Atacama desert, normally the driest in the world, destroyed homes and bridges, cut off roads, and left thousands stranded
More

Rio Residents Protest Olympic Eviction With Road Block

Cars gridlocked for at least five kilometers in southern neighborhood of Barra de Tijuca as residents rally against demolition of favela
More

Peru's PM, Government to Resign After Censure Vote

Move delivers a blow to President Ollanta Humala, who will now have to form another new government
More

Argentine Workers Strike Over Income Tax Rate

With economy already weak, public transport stops, many businesses close and garbage piles up on one-day walkout
More

Tickets Go on Sale for 2016 Rio Olympics

More than half of the 7.5 million tickets will cost 70 Brazilian reais ($22) or less
More