Officials Urge Caution Along California, Hawaii Coasts Following Powerful Chile Earthquake

Photo: Luis Hidalgo, AP)
Photo: Luis Hidalgo, AP)

A tsunami alert was lifted in Chile on Thursday, after a powerful 8.3-magnitude earthquake off the coast killed at least five people.

Officials in parts of California and Hawaii urged caution around shorelines Thursday. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami watch for Hawaii soon after the quake, but later downgraded it to an advisory.

A million people were evacuated following the quake Wednesday night, which sparked several aftershocks. Officials said three people died of heart attacks and two were crushed by falling rocks and masonry, the BBC reported.

Chilean authorities had issued a tsunami alert for the country’s coast, but canceled it for all regions Thursday.

President Michelle Bachelet said she planned to travel to the worst affected areas, where flooding occurred, buildings were damaged and power supplies cut. In the coastal city of Coquimbo, 15-feet high waves were reported.

In a televised statement, Bachelet said: “Once again we’re having to deal with another harsh blow from nature.”

In 2010, at least 700 people died following a 8.8-magnitude earthquake and tsunami. Chilean authorities were criticized for failing to warn swiftly of that tsunami.

“It’s been awful. We ran out of the house with our grandchildren and now we are on a hill hoping it will be over soon,” Maria Angelica Leiva, from the coastal town of Navidad, told Reuters.

“It is all very dark, and we just hope the sea hasn’t reached our house.”

SOURCE: Jane Onyanga-Omara

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