A powerful and massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake has hit Chile early Saturday morning. To date 78 people have been reported dead and the earthquake has triggered a tsunami warning for the Pacific. President Michelle Bachelet has declared a “state of catastrophe” in affected areas and appealed for calm.
The US Geological Survey said the earthquake struck 56 miles northeast of the city of Concepcion at a depth of 22 miles at 3:34 a.m. (1:34 a.m. EST). Tsunami warnings have been issued for Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Central America and Pacific island nations.
The quake’s epicenter was located off the coast of Maule, about 200 miles southwest of Santiago. It struck at 3:34 a.m. (1:34 a.m. ET), when most people were sleeping.
Buildings caught fire and residents huddled in streets strewn with glass and masonry, many terrified by powerful aftershocks and desperately trying to call friends and family.
President Michelle Bachelet said there were 78 confirmed deaths and that more were possible. Telephone and power lines were down, making it difficult to assess the full extent of the damage close to the epicenter.
Chile is the world’s No. 1 copper producer, and the quake halted operations at two major mines near the capital.
There have been a number of aftershocks following the earthquake measuring as high as 6.9.
UPDATE I: It is sadly being reported that 82 people are now confirmed dead. Now 85 confirmed dead. The death toll is now confirmed at 122 and rising.
Say a prayer for them all …
UPDATE II: Hawaii residents issued tsunami warning after massive 8.8-earthquake jolts Chile.
State officials in Hawaii have activated their emergency response plans to prepare for a possible tsunami caused by the massive earthquake in Chile, an official said Saturday.
Geophysicist: Tsunami Is Rapidly Approaching Hawaii
There have been over 57 aftershocks and the death toll is now reported over over 147 people.
UPDATE III: Chile Earthquake kills more then 700
An 8.8 magnitude earthquake can be nothing more than an unthinkable nightmare. 100′s of aftershocks and sadly over 700 confirmed deceased and counting.
President Michelle Bachelet said that 708 people were confirmed dead and that the total was likely to rise.
The death toll from Saturday’s 8.8-magnitude quake had stood at 400 earlier on Sunday, before state television quoted emergency officials as saying that 350 people were killed in the coastal town of Constitucion, which was hit by a tsunami.
From ABC News:
God bless those who have passed and their families and loved ones. These types of events just remind us how powerful nature truly is and how insignificant we are in the grand scope of things. The Chilean people are going to need our help. Let’s me there like we always have been in the past for them.