Devastating 8.8 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Chile – March 1st, 201035.3S 72.4W
Chile has begun to count the cost of its deadly earthquake as nations around the Pacific eased their fears of a devastating tsunami. The quake, which occurred on Saturday morning, killed at least 350 people – 90% of them in their homes. It is feared the damage may cost tens of billions of dollars.
The epicenter was offshore of Chile’s Maule Region, near the city of Concepción, about 325 km (200 miles) southwest of Santiago. However, the effects of the 8.8 magnitude quake were felt as far away as Sao Paulo, Brazil – a distance of about 2850 kilometers.
It is the largest earthquake to hit Chile in 50 years and the sixth strongest ever recorded – 100 times stronger than the one that hit Haiti in January. Over 50 aftershocks have been recorded.
The epicenter of the quake was towards the center of this image; Santiago is located towards the top. Upon opening the full version, the majority of the Chilean coast can be observed, from the Atacama Desert in the North to Patagonia in the South.
The death toll looks set to rise, following reports that about 350 people died in the town of Constitución alone. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said that two million people had been affected by the earthquake. Many Chileans in affected areas have spent the first night since the earthquake outdoors, afraid to stay inside.
Meanwhile fears of a devastating tsunami across the Pacific receded on Sunday. About 50 Pacific countries and territories had issued tsunami alerts, although on Sunday the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center lifted its Pacific-wide alert. Japan has maintained an alert, issuing evacuation orders for 320,000 people around the coast. However, it downgraded it from major to normal – meaning waves of two metres were expected rather than three. French Polynesia and Tahiti were among those hit by high waves, but no casualties have been reported.