Earthquake Chile OutsideOnline

The coastal city of Iquique was hit by two earthquakes in March in addition to the 8.2 magnitude that hit last night.     Photo: Kseniya Ragozina/Thinkstock

Tsunami and Earthquake Hit Chile

8.2 magnitude strike

A massive 8.2 magnitude earthquake hit the coast of Chile late Tuesday night. Five people have been confirmed dead, and the scope of the damage is still uncertain. The earthquake was centered roughly 60 miles north of Iquique in northern Chile and sparked small landslides, cut power, and even triggered a tsunami.

As of Wednesday morning, it appears Chile might have escaped major devastation relative to the quake's strength. An 8.8 magnitude earthquake in 2010 killed nearly 500 people in Chile, primarily in the coastal Maule region.

"The country has faced these first emergency hours very well," said Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. "Many people are fearful after experiencing the powerful earthquake in 2010, so they immediately fled for higher ground when they heard the tsunami warning."

The tsunami generated seven-foot waves in the most affected area near Iquique and sent roughly six-foot waves down a good portion of the Chilean coast. Earthquakes are almost the norm in Chile, which is situated on an arc of volcanoes and major fault lines. A 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit the same Iquique region on March 16, followed by another quake just a week later.

During the Tuesday night earthquake, 300 inmates reportedly escaped from a women’s prison near Iquique, forcing officials to close the Peruvian border.