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Powerful 8.2-magnitude quake, tsunami waves rattle Chile's Pacific coast

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02 April 2014

A powerful 8.2-magnitude earthquake rattled Chile's Pacific coast with tsunami waves of more than two metres lashing the shore and killing at least six people.

President Michelle Bachelet declared parts of northern Chile hit by the offshore quake as disaster zones and authorities ordered them to flee to higher ground.

Panicked residents poured into the streets in northern Chile that has been witnessing tremors since last two weeks.

Reports quoting government sources said more than 900,000 people and 11 hospitals were evacuated along the Chilean coastline, while 86,000 people are still at risk in tsunami alert zone.

Six towns remain under a tsunami alert - Arica, Psauga, Iquique, Patache, Tocopilla and Mejillones.

Chile's Army and Air Force have been asked to tackle the situation in quake-hit areas of Arica and Tarapaca where disaster has been declared.

Meanwhile, taking advantage of the confusion, 300 women prisoners are reported to have escaped from the prison in Iquique, Chile's interior minister said. Reports said, some 45 had been recaptured but remaining were still at large.

Authorities have deployed special forces to prevent incidents of looting.

Tuesday's quake was stronger, of magnitude 8.2 magnitude, but experts believe a bigger quake might still happen.

"This magnitude 8.2 is not the large earthquake that we were expecting in this area," CNN quoted Mark Simons, a geophysicist from California, as saying.

According to Simons, the fault line along Chile's coast has constantly been shifting during the last 140 years and it would be difficult to say when that bigger quake will occur.

He said a bigger quake will result in the rupture of the earth's surface with the two sides of the fault line slipping past each other.

The tsunami is expected to reach Japanese coast on Thursday, and the first wave is expected to hit the Pacific coasts of Hokkaido, northernmost Japan, Kyodo news agency reported quoting Chile's meteorological agency.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued several tsunami warnings for areas like Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica etc, but later cancelled all alerts, including those for Chile and Peru.

However, a tsunami warning issued for Hawaii is still in effect, according to reports.





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