Sun | Sep 23, 2018

8.3-magnitude quake rattles north Chile, 1 million evacuate

Published:Friday | September 18, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Women dry their belonging outside their home after an earthquake-triggered tsunami flooded their home in Concon, Chile, yesterday.
A woman and girl sit outside after spending the night on the top of a hill on the outskirts of Illapel, Chile, early yesterday.


Thousands of residents of this small city in northern Chile slept outside yesterday after a powerful earthquake destroyed their homes, forced more than one million to evacuate, and killed at least 10 people in the quake-prone South American nation.

Several coastal towns were flooded from small tsunami waves set off by late Wednesday's quake, which shook the Earth so strongly that rumbles were felt across South America.

The magnitude-8.3 quake lasted for three minutes, causing buildings to sway in the capital, Santiago, and prompting authorities to issue a tsunami warning for the Andean nation's entire Pacific coast. People sought safety in the streets of inland cities, while others along the shore took to their cars to race to higher ground.

"I thought it was the end of the world and we were going to die," said teary-eyed Manuel Moya, 38, sleeping with his wife on the ground outside their destroyed home in Illapel, 175 miles (280 kilometres) north of Santiago and 34 miles (55 kilometres) east of the quake's epicentre. The town and surrounding areas have about 35,000 residents.

Moya said he and his wife were in bed and watching television when the quake hit. Fearing they would be killed if they remained inside, they ran outside in their underwear. By the end of the shaking, their home, made of concrete, had been reduced to rubble.

"They said it was a magnitude 8, but it felt like a 10," said Moya, adding that neighbours took them clothes.