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

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis Rally Against Racism

PM Netanyahu says he will meet Damas Pakada, the Ethiopia-born Israeli soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen More

Ten Migrants Drown in Mediterranean, 4,800 Rescued

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudis Using US Cluster Bombs in Yemen

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Ministry: Gunmen Open Fire on Mexican Army Helicopter, 3 Killed

Violence also flared up on Friday in Jalisco's capital, Guadalajara, second-largest city in Mexico, with vehicles set ablaze in and around the metropolitan area
More

Suspected Member of Guatemalan Family Drug Cartel Extradited to US

Elio Elixander Lorenzana Cordon, 43, arrived in the United States on Thursday and was arraigned on Friday
More

Photogallery Rallies Mark May Day Around the World

Workers are calling for higher pay, better working conditions during protest marches
More

Colombia's Former Spy Chief Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison

Maria del Pilar Hurtado sentenced for spying on opposition lawmakers, judges, journalists in one of biggest scandals to mar government of ex-President Uribe
More

Argentine Families Expect Pope to Open Dictatorship Files

Files contain complaints to papal nuncio in Argentina and episcopate by families of those disappeared during 1976-83 military crackdown
More

Photogallery Chile's Calbuco Erupts Again With New Cloud of Ash

Volcano erupts for third time in eight days, winds pushing ash clouds southeast towards Argentina
More