Citizens of the Chilean city of Iquique were permitted to return home Wednesday morning, after an April 1st magnitude 8.2 earthquake generated a tsunami which produced 6.9 foot waves. Similar sized waves were also reported in the coastal towns Pisagua and Arica.
The death toll so far due to the quake is six. According to officials, one firefighter and one woman were killed by collapsing walls, and four men died of heart attacks. Minimal damage was reported, as Chile, a country prone to massive earthquakes has developed an infrastructure that is resistant to seismic activity.
The quake hit at 23:46 UTC off the coast of Chile, and the epicenter was approximately 59 miles northwest of Iquique. The main tremor was preceded by a number of mid-sized quakes that hit in the same region in the preceding weeks. These events are associated with the boundary of the Nazca Plate and the South America Plate. The U.S. Geological Survey stated that the earthquake was shallow at 12.5 miles below the seabed, and struck roughly 950 miles from capital Santiago.
Here' a clip from a restaurant in Chile shot during the time of the quake:
Chilean president Michelle Bachelet declared parts of the country's north as a disaster zone, and military and troops and police reinforcements were dispatched to maintain order while landslide-blocked roads are cleared and damage was repaired. Authorities are still assessing the full extent of the destruction.
Steven Godby, an expert in disaster management at Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham, England, commented, "The government of Chile has been working hard to improve the awareness of people living along the coast to the threat from tsunamis and on what to do if one is approaching. Several tsunami drills have taken place since the (earthquake and) tsunami that killed an estimated 500 plus Chileans in February 2010, and recent earthquakes in the region have helped to keep the threat firmly in people's minds."
Image via YouTube