A powerful earthquake measuring 6.9 magnitude on the Richter scale knocked over Chile’s west coast on Monday evening but fortunately there are no reports of injuries or death. The quake rocked the capital Santiago and briefly causing alarm along the Pacific Coast but sparing the quake-prone nation of any serious damage.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake was centred in the Pacific Ocean about 35 kilometres in the west of the port city Valparaiso and hit the country coast at around 6:40 p.m. The earthquake swayed the buildings for about 30 seconds in Santiago with a magnitude of 6.9 which is generally strong enough to cause severe damage and casualties. The tremor was felt as far as Argentina which is beyond Andes.
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In Valparaiso, the coastal zones were ordered to evacuate promptly because of the rising risk of tsunami but sixteen minutes after the evacuation order was issued, the local authorities cancelled it since there was no risk of tsunami and allowed the people who were already moving towards the higher grounds to return to their homes. The prompt evacuation order was issued to avoid situations like back in 2010 when a horrific 8.8 magnitude quake hit Chile and the tsunami it unleashed, killed more than 500 people.
Chile is earthquake prone area and the local authorities are quite aware and acts instantly during such situations. Chile’s emergency service office said that there has been no major material, infrastructure or human damage. Also, there were no reports of structural or human damage in Valparaiso, but cell-phone networks were down in some places, a spokesman with the local government said.
After the 2010 tragedy, mass evacuations have been triggered several times along Chile’s long coast but eismologists say the South American country’s heavy investment in structural reinforcement of buildings has helped reduce the damage from even strong quakes.