We’re wrapping up the live blog on the earthquake, but you can head here for any further updates.
Here is a rundown of the major developments so far:
- A powerful 8.2-magnitude earthquake has struck off northern Chile’s Pacific coast.
- The quake struck at 8.46pm on Tuesday (10.46am Wednesday AEDT) at a depth of 20 kilometres, 95 kilometres from the port town od Iquique, the United States Geological Survey says.
- The death toll stands at five. This includes two men who regional governor Mitchel Cartes said had suffered fatal heart attacks. Three other people are reported to be seriously injured.
- A tsunami warning is in place and an evacuation order is expected to maintained for the next several hours.
- Landslides have blocked roads in the area where thousands have been affected by blackouts. An airport’s been damaged and several businesses caught fire.
- About 300 inmates have escaped from a women’s prison in the city of Iquique, and officials say Chile’s military is sending a plane load of special forces to guard against looting.
The death toll following the massive 8.2 quake has just been updated. Chile's Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said five people have died following a massive 8.2 quake, Reuters reports.
Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo outlined to the media just how much manpower was being mobilised to maintain order in the quake-affected parts of the country's north.
Hundreds of soldiers were being deployed in the quake zone, the Associated Press reports him as saying. A flight would be leaving soon with 100 special forces on board.
‘‘We have taken action to ensure public order in the case of Iquique, where we’ve had a massive escape of more than 300 female prisoners from the Iquique jail, so that the armed forces and police can co-ordinate and provide tranquility and security to the residents,’’ Penailillo said.
Reports are coming through about some of the damage caused by the 8.2 magnitude quake.
There were landslides and at least one fire in Iquique, Television Nacional reported. A church tower in the town of Huara collapsed after the tremor, the local mayor Carlos Silva told TVN.
Air force troops are bolstering police guarding supermarkets and petrol stations. There was an attempt at looting in Iquique, regional governor Gonzalo Prieto told Radio Cooperativa.
Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing the coast right along the length of the country, causing traffic jams on routes heading to higher ground. Ships have been ordered to weigh anchor and move away from the shoreline.
‘‘At the beginning it was chaotic as people started evacuating in cars, which is not allowed,’’ said Justin Sturrock, a resident in the northern city of Antofagasta told Bloomberg News. ‘‘The highway is blocked and there are traffic jams everywhere.’’
The government expects to maintain the evacuation order until at least 5.30am - that's about the next five hours.
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, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. A powerful magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck off Chile's northern coast Tuesday night. Photo: Cristian Viveros
The first two victims of the earthquake both died of heart attacks, according Chilean television. However, the report also says the cause of the deaths is still being investigated. One is a firefighter.
The network also says that some vehicles are trapped on roads around Iquique and Alto Hospicio.
Authorities say that at least 16 prisoners attempting to escape from a women’s prison in the wake of the 8.2 magnitude earthquake have been recaptured.
Armed forces have been dispatched to Iquique following reports that up to 300 inmates broke out.
The quake has left two dead and three others seriously injured, the governor of Iquique Gonzalo Prieto told local radio station Cooperativa.
It struck about 83 kilometres off the coast of Iquique, a key copper exporting port in the country's north.
The interior minister has also advised that the country's tsunami warning is expected to be in place for hours, ABC News in the US is reporting.
Chile's National Seismology Centre has recorded 12 aftershocks since the 8.2 quake.
The Chilean interior minister has told Chilean television that about 300 women inmates from a prison had escaped following the earthquake, according to the BBC.
No further details were immediately available.
Tsunami warnings have been cancelled for Ecuador, Colombia and Panama.
Tsunami warnings remain in place for Chile and Peru, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.
Professor James Goff, a tsunami scientist from the University of New South Wales, said today’s earthquake occurred in the same area where another major earthquake struck in 1868, causing a tsunami.
He said the 1868 tsunami was the largest to hit New Zealand. It also affected Australia's east coast, including Tasmania as well as around Sydney and parts of the NSW south coast.
‘‘Today’s earthquake is smaller than the 1868 earthquake, which was an 8.5 and was also shallower, but it will still undoubtedly generate a tsunami that will affect New Zealand," he said.
"But at the moment we’re just not sure of the size, but it will not be large. It’s a delicate balance between the magnitude and the depth of the quake.
‘‘We’re just not sure right now how big the tsunami will be. It’s a case of waiting to see the reports of wave heights around Chile and as it comes across the Pacific. We’re just watching and waiting.”
Here is a map of the estimated times it will take the tsunami waves to reach certain points:
The US Geological Survey reports that the latest earthquake occurred as a result of "thrust faulting" at shallow depths near the Chilean coast.
It says: ‘‘The location and mechanism of the earthquake are consistent with slip on the primary plate boundary interface, or megathrust, between the Nazca and South America plates.
‘‘At the latitude of the earthquake, the Nazca plate subducts eastward beneath the South America plate at a rate of 65 mm/yr.
"Subduction along the Peru-Chile Trench to the west of Chile has led to uplift of the Andes mountain range and has produced some of the largest earthquakes in the world, including the 2010 M 8.8 Maule earthquake in central Chile, and the largest earthquake on record, the 1960 M 9.5 earthquake in southern Chile."
The US Geological Survey now has recorded nine aftershocks off the Chilean coast.
You can see a map of those aftershocks, and their measurements, here.
The Chilean interior ministry has told the BBC that one of the main roads outside Iquique has been cut off due to landslides.
The ministry says that partial landslides have also taken place between the towns of Putre and General Lagos.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre has released measurements of tsunami wave activity following earthquake. The largest wave was 2.11 metres at Iquique. You can see the other measurements below.
ABC News in the US has quoted local officials as saying that the first waves were not necessarily the strongest, and evacuated residents should not return to the coastline until the tsunami alert was lifted.
Pacific Tsunami Warning Center: Measurements, reports of tsunami wave activity following earthquake in Chile pic.twitter.com/Lv6NiK8UEU— AJAM Live (@ajamlive) April 2, 2014
Here's a rundown of the major developments in Chile:
- A powerful 8.2-magnitude earthquake has struck off Chile’s Pacific coast.
- The quake struck at 8.46pm on Tuesday (10.46am Wednesday AEDT) at a depth of 10 kilometres, 83 kilometres from Iquique on Chile’s northern coast, the United States Geological Survey says.
- Tsunami warnings have been issued for Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Panama.
- Tsunami waves up to two metres high have struck the coast of Chile, according to reports.
- The Chilean emergency services said they had not received any reports of major damage.
Evacuees are streaming into the streets of Iquique.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre has just expanded its tsunami warning to include Colombia and Panama. The earlier warning, issued for Chile, Peru and Ecuador, also remains in place.
A lesser tsunami watch has been issued for Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras.
Here's a map of the area where the magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck:
An undersea earthquake has struck off the coast of Chile
So far there are reports of waves of nearly two metres reaching the Chilean coast.
For context, the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011 included waves of around 10 metres, reaching to up to 40 metres.
The Boxing Day tsunami, the deadliest on record, included initial waves of up to 33 metres.
Chilean authorities have ramped up their seismic monitoring since a large earthquake struck the country on March 16, according to The Santiago Times.
That quake in the Tarapacá Region registered 6.7 magnitude and left more than 22,000 residents in the coastal city of Iquique without electricity. More than 100,000 were evacuated.
Since then, seismologists have documented more than 300 aftershocks and tremors, the newspaper reports.
See the full story here.
Bloomberg is reporting that tsunami waves up to 1.8 metres high have struck the coast of Chile.
The Chilean emergency services said they had not received any reports of major damage.
The quake cut power in parts of the country, according to TVN, the Chilean national broadcaster. The station reported waves of up to 1.8 metres in the port city of Iquique and Pisagua in northern Chile.
Authorities have ordered evacuation of the coastline.
"Chile is actually quite well prepared for tsunamis," Bruce Tresgrave, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey, said on Bloomberg TV.
"There is always the possibility of communications failure."
Tresgrave said the area where the earthquake hit "is not at all a surprise. There had been some earthquakes in the magnitude 6 range over the past two or three weeks", he said.
A restaurant near the Chilean coast is engulfed with flames after a powerful earthquake off the coast. Photo: AFP
More photographs are emerging people evacuating buildings, this time in the port city of Antofagasta.
At least four aftershocks have been recorded, according to the Chilean agency Centro Sismologico Nacional.
The strongest measured 5.2. See all the readings here.
Chile is one of the most seismically active countries in the world.
In February 2010, central and southern Chile were hit by a powerful earthquake of 8.8-magnitude followed by a tsunami that devastated dozens of towns, according to AFP.
The quake left more than 500 dead and $US30 billion ($A32.53 billion) in damage to infrastructure.
The same coastal area has been the scene of numerous quakes in recent days.
On Sunday, a 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck, followed by at least two moderate aftershocks, the US Geological Survey said.
The tsunami warning has been issued for Chile, Ecuador and Peru.
Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, has tweeted: "Everyone along our coast should be alert and ready".
Fuerte terremoto en mar de Chile. INOCAR emitió alerta de tsunami. Todo nuestro perfil costanero a estar atentos y preparados.— Rafael Correa (@MashiRafael) April 2, 2014
This video has been posted of evacuation sirens sounding, and people fleeing, the port city of Antofagasta.
Chile earthquake tsunami warning
RAW VISION: warning sirens blare in this video purportedly shot in Antofagasta in northern Chile, a coastal city under threat from a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 8.2 earthquake.PT0M51S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-35xus 620 349 April 2, 2014
The quake struck about 83 kilometres off the coast of Iquique, a key copper exporting port close to the country's main copper mines.
Mining companies Codelco and BHP Billiton told Reuters that they had not yet received reports of damage to mines.
Iquique is on the northern coast of Chile, about 1800 kilometres north of the capital Santiago.
It has a population of about 180,000 people.
The Chilean navy said the first tsunami wave had hit the coast within 45 minutes of the quake, Reuters reported.
However no further details of exactly where it had hit were provided.
"An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicentre within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre has estimated that the first wave could reach the coastal town of Iquique in Chile just after midnight. It is currently just before 10pm in Inquique.
Below is a table of the estimated times waves could hit certain towns.
To put the Chilean earthquake into context, here is the depth and magnitude of some other recent major 'quakes.
- The fatal Christchurch earthquake of 2011 was magnitude 6.3 at a depth of 5 kilometres.
- The Indian Ocean 'quake that sparked the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 was magnitude 9.1-9.3 at a depth of 30 kilometres.
- The Tohoku earthquake that sparked the huge tsunami to hit Japan in 2011 was a magnitude of 9.0 and hit at a depth of 30 kilometres.
The current Chilean earthquake was magnitude 8.2 and struck at a depth of 10 kilometres.
It has taken years for Japan's Tohoku area to recover after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Photo: Getty Images
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre has just upgraded the magnitude of the earthquake - from 8.0 to 8.2.
Tsunami warning: locals stand in the street following the alert. Photo: AFP
The Bureau of Meteorology says there is NO tsunami threat to Australia.
‘‘There is no tsunami threat to the Australian mainland, islands or territories,’’ the bureau said in a statement.
Chile is no stranger to earthquakes, although this one is particularly large.
The website earthquaketrack.com says it is the 99th earthquake to have affected the country in the past 30 days.
It is, however, the strongest and at an unusually shallow depth of 10 kilometres.
Chile's Office of National Emergencies has ordered an evacuation of its coastal areas due to the risk of tsunami.
There are a number of images circulating on social media, claiming to show residents evacuating:
The warning states: "Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicentre and could also be a threat to more distance coasts.
"The Pacific authorities should take appropriate action in response to this possibility. This center will continue to monitor sea level data to determine the extent and severity of the threat."
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said tsunami wave activity had been detected following the quake.
The wave activity was measured between 1.7 metres and 1.9 metres.
The 8.2-magnitude quake struck at a depth of 10km, 83km from Iquique on Chile's coast, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.
The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued a warning.
The centre said that sea level readings indicated that a tsunami had been generated.
''It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicentre and could also be a threat to more distant coasts,'' the centre said.