Bachelet to visit quake disaster zone in northern Chile

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Bachelet to visit quake disaster zone in northern Chile

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At least five people are known to have been killed after an earthquake of magnitude 8.2 struck northern Chile.

The authorities said the victims included people who were crushed by collapsing walls or who died from heart attacks.

The epicentre was off Chile’s northwestern coast. A local tsunami warning was later lifted but only after a wide area had been put on alert – as far away as Hawaii and Mexico.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quake generated waves of up to two metres high.

President Michelle Bachelet is visiting the affected area on Wednesday after declaring a state of emergency.

She has promised troops and police reinforcements in the disaster area to maintain order while infrastructure is repaired after landslides blocked roads.

She only returned to power last month. Her first term was marked by an even larger quake that killed more than 500 people.

Coastal areas were calmly evacuated. The region had been on high alert after a series of unusual tremors.

Chile is the world’s largest copper producer but mining is not said to have been badly disrupted.

About 300 female prisoners escaped temporarily but were soon recaptured.

Some flights in and out of northern Chile were cancelled.