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Chile assesses extent of earthquake damage; police and military ensure order

Friday, April 4th 2014 - 05:01 UTC
Full article 4 comments
Chilean authorities proved to be well organized to face the telluric episodes in one of the most geological vulnerable areas Chilean authorities proved to be well organized to face the telluric episodes in one of the most geological vulnerable areas

Coastal residents of Chile’s far north spent a second sleepless night outside their homes as major aftershocks continued Thursday following a magnitude-8.2 earthquake that damaged several thousand homes and caused six deaths. But no new major damage or casualties were reported, and a heavy police and military presence kept order.

 The infrastructure in the area is nearly entirely intact, but with aftershocks continuing, life has been anything but normal. Power remains out in many areas, and hospitals were handling only emergencies. Schools were closed, and large supermarkets and gas stations coordinated their reopening Thursday with police and military to avoid problems with long lines of customers.

After a magnitude-7.6 aftershock struck just before midnight Wednesday, Chile’s Emergency Office and navy issued a tsunami alert, and for two hours ordered everyone living in low-lying areas along the country’s entire 4,000-kilometer Pacific coastline to evacuate.

Among those moved inland was President Michelle Bachelet, who was in the city of Arica assessing damage in the north from Tuesday night’s powerful quake.

‘‘I was evacuated like all citizens. One can see that the people are prepared,’’ she tweeted early Thursday.

Chile’s evacuation order was lifted at around 2 a.m. Thursday. Some 900,000 people also were affected the night before when the entire coast was evacuated for several hours after Tuesday’s bigger quake, although the tsunami proved small.

The repeated aftershocks have shaken buildings and sent people running into the streets in the port of Iquique, the largest city closest to the epicenter. About 45 minutes before the 7.6 quake, a magnitude-6.5 aftershock also rattled Iquique. The shaking loosened more landslides near Alto Hospicio, a poor area at the entrance to Iquique where about 2,500 homes had been damaged in Tuesday’s larger quake.

The Ministry of Education suspended classes again in schools in the north for Thursday, while the region’s top prosecutor, Manuel Guerra, said his office is taking action against speculators who sharply raised prices for bread, water, milk and diapers. ‘‘They will be detained and charged,’’ Guerra tweeted, calling on the community to denounce ‘‘intolerable’’ abuses.

The largest aftershock was felt across the border in southern Peru, where people in the cities of Tacna and Arequipa fled buildings in fear. Police Lt. Freddy Cuela in Tacna said no damage or injuries were reported. Peru’s navy tweeted a tsunami alert for the country’s extreme southern coast, which is next to the Chilean region hit by the quakes.

Top Comments

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  • Briton

    Our thought are with you guys,
    earthquake's are terrible destructive and life taking,

    take care...

    Apr 04th, 2014 - 07:36 pm 0
  • reality check

    Second that, glad that so little loss of life has taken place. Commiserations with those who have lost loved ones.

    Hopefully this one is over.

    Apr 04th, 2014 - 09:17 pm 0
  • ElaineB

    The aftershocks are numerous and almost continuous. I even felt one in the central region this morning around 6:00 a.m. Not strong like others I have felt here on this trip but enough to shake me awake.

    The news channels here are showing some of the damage but a lot seems superficial, plaster off walls etc. Still very unpleasant for the people but all credit to Chile for building so well and their response to the situation.

    Apr 04th, 2014 - 09:39 pm 0
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