8.3 Earthquake off Chile coast triggers Tsunami

COQUIMBO, CHILE - SEPTEMBER 22: Local residents clean their home of the debris left by the tsunami that ensued an 8.3 quake that left 12 people dead in Coquimbo, 450 km north of Santiago, Chile on September 22, 2015. (Photo by Andres Miranda Munizaga/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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COQUIMBO, CHILE - SEPTEMBER 22: Local residents clean their home of the debris left by the tsunami that ensued an 8.3 quake that left 12 people dead in Coquimbo, 450 km north of Santiago, Chile on September 22, 2015. (Photo by Andres Miranda Munizaga/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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Off the coast of Chile on Sept. 16, at approximately 7:54 p.m., an 8.3 earthquake struck Wednesday night killing 10 or more people and forcing around 1 million to evacuate according to CNN reports. U.S. Geological Survey says that the epicenter of the earthquake was 34 miles west of the city of Illapel and had the depth of 20.5 miles.

In Santiago, buildings swayed and thousands fled from their homes or schools and onto the streets. The quake lasted for approximately three minutes, prompting authorities to send out a tsunami warning for the entire Pacific coast of the Andean nation. Chile’s national emergency agency sent out the tsunami warning as soon as the quake hit and stopped at 6 a.m. on Thursday.  

The Guardians reported that the quake also sparked fears that tsunamis could surge across the Pacific Ocean. Countries as far away as Japan, New Zealand, Russia and the states of California and Hawaii issued warnings.

BBC reported that in some towns, including Coquimbo, saw waves as high as 15 feet according to the Tsunami Warning Center.  

“The city was starting to see flooding and 95% of the city had lost electrical power. Residents had evacuated before waves started hitting the coastline,” Coquimbo mayor Cristian Galleguillos said in an interview with CNN.

The tsunami and the earthquake hit Chile hard, leaving thousands stranded without electricity and hundreds spending the night in temporary shelters. Several coastal towns of Chile were flooded due to the violent waves. According to ABC 7, the earthquake likely caused billions of dollars in damage.

According to the emergency response team, five hundred homes or more were damaged across the region, along with large parts of a seafront village on Tongoy.

While the earthquake was forceful, the earthquake of 2010 was 5.6 times more powerful in terms of energy release according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The 2010 quake killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes and washed away docks, riverfronts and seaside resorts. The energy released from the quake caused the Earth’s day to shorten by a fraction of a second by changing the planet’s rotation, reported by Charleston Gazette.

On Thursday, the president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, took action on national television announcing that, Tongoy and Coquimbo had been extensively flooded and damaged.” She declared a catastrophe zone in those areas and mobilized the military to help civilians and prevent looting. “Once again we must confront a powerful blow from nature.”

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