More than 700 dead in Chile quake, tsunami

March 1st, 2010 - 3:32 am ICT by BNO News  

CONCEPCION, CHILE (BNO NEWS) — More than 700 people are confirmed dead after the extremely powerful Chilean earthquake that unleashed a tsunami, killing many near the epicenter and triggering a tsunami warnings for more than 50 countries throughout the Pacific.

The government imposed a curfew in quake-hit areas of Concepcion and Maule on Sunday, as President Michelle Bachelet reported at least 708 deaths.

President Bachelet asked for calm after TV reported looting in Concepcion. The military was deployed in the city of one million residents.

Several cities near the epicenter were hit by a tsunami. The seaside resort of Pelluhue was washed away, it had 1,000 residents. The Juan Fernández islands were also hit by a giant wave and several people were reported missing there.

The International Red Cross called the earthquake an “international emergency” and said Chilean leaders are meeting to discuss the need of international assistance.

The earthquake, which had a magnitude of 8.8, was centered about 60 miles north-northwest of Chillan and 200 miles southwest of Santiago, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It struck at a depth of 21.7 miles at 03.34 a.m. local time.

A tsunami warning was immediately issued for the entire Pacific Ocean after the earthquake, even as far away as Japan, were small waves hit around 18 hours after the quake.

The massive earthquake was also followed by a series of aftershocks, which may continue for weeks or even months. The strongest aftershock was a magnitude 6.9 earthquake, which struck 130 miles of Concepcion around 3.01 a.m. local time on Saturday.

The 2010 Chile earthquake is the second largest quake in the past 20 years, behind the 2004 Indian Ocean 9.1-magnitude quake.

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