Chile Aftershock Registers Magnitude 7.6


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The U.S. Geological Survey reports that a magnitude 7.6 aftershock rattled Chile's northern coast late Wednesday night, triggering a tsunami warning for regions of that country and Peru.

The significant tremor came after an April 1st magnitude 8.2 quake generated a tsunami which produced 6.9 foot waves. The initial quake hit at 23:46 UTC off the coast of Chile, and the epicenter was approximately 59 miles northwest of the city of Iquique. The epicenter of last night's aftershock was 12 miles south of Iquique at a depth of 25 miles, according to the USGS.

The aftershock was felt along the border in southern Peru, where people in the cities of Tacna and Arequipa followed suit with the residents of Iquique, and fled into the streets, avoiding buildings in fear. Citizens of low-lying areas were reevacuated, though the tsunami warning issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center for the region was cancelled late Wednesday.

Roughly 2,500 houses were damaged during the initial temblor in Alto Hospicio, a poor neighborhood situated in the hills above Iquique, a city with a population of nearly 200,000 people. The death toll so far due to the quake is six, and 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, prevent looting and to corral escaped convicts.

Here are some images of the damage, via Twitter:

The main April 1st 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 USGS stated that the main earthquake was shallow at 12.5 miles below the seabed, and struck roughly 950 miles from capital Santiago.

Earthquake-prone Chile has established an excellent infrastructure to deal with seismic activity, but the system has its flaws. Tsunami warning sirens are lacking in areas of Arica, and authorities were giving orders to evacuate by megaphone, as well as using Twitter to relay instructions. Though, fewer than 15 percent of Chileans use the tsunami warning app on their smartphones.

Image via Twitter