A massive earthquake has brought carnage to Chile, killing more than 120 people and triggering a tsunami.
It struck at just after 3:30 a.m. local time and was of magnitude 8.8. The earthquake that devastated Haiti last month was magnitude seven.
Bridges and buildings crumbled. Telephone and power lines were also destroyed, meaning it may be some time before the real material and human cost can be accurately assessed.
The epicentre was located 90 kilometres north of the city of Concepcion. The hypocentre, or source of the earthquake, was measured by the US Geological Survey at 35 kilometres below the earth’s surface.
A tsunami warning was soon issued not just for South and Central America, but also in Australia, the Philippines and Japan, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
Chile’s president-elect Sebastian Pinera, winner of last month’s elections, faces a crisis eleven days before he is sworn in. He said:
“This earthquake strikes hard against all Chilean society, and I think we’re going to have to work with all our strength, the current and future governments together.”
The Juan Fernandez islands off the Chilean coast were battered by large tsunami waves that are still making their way across the Pacific. The popular tourist destination of Easter Island was evacuated.
The panic continued in Concepcion and the capital Santiago hours after the quake struck. Amid power black-outs, there have been dozens of strong aftershocks, some approaching magnitude seven.