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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Brazil, Argentina Seek to Resolve Colombia-Venezuela Border Spat

Venezuelan President last month closed several crossings, deported 1,300 Colombians in what he called a crackdown on smuggling, crime in turbulent area
More

Brazil Prosecutors Charge Lula's Former Chief of Staff

Jose Dirceu, who served in post from 2003-2005, is one of the most senior members of ruling Workers' Party targeted by prosecutors in massive scandal
More

Venezuela's Lopez Set to Give Closing Remarks at Trial

Opposition leader is charged with inciting violence in bloody protest movement in 2014, could face more than 10 years in prison
More

Guatemala's Ex-President Goes to Court After Night Behind Bars

Perez Molina's jailing followed historic day in which he resigned and country's Congress swore in VP Alejandro Maldonado to serve remainder of his term
More

Puerto Rican Voters Prized by Democrats, Republicans

Five million Puerto Ricans live on US mainland, including nearly 1 million in key swing state of Florida, and they care about what happens back on the island
More

Russia, Venezuela Seek to Combat Oil Price Woes

The price of oil has roughly halved since last year due to oversupply and a decision by the OPEC cartel not to cut production
More