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Ed Driscoll

Breaking: Magnitude 8.8 Earthquake Hits Chile

February 26th, 2010 - 11:07 pm

Early details coming in, some say it’s 8.5, others say it’s 8.3. [Update as of midnight Pacific time, now apparently mag. 8.8] Either way, that’s potentially devastating:

SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) – A massive magnitude-8.3 earthquake struck near Concepcion, Chile early on Saturday, USGS reported, shaking buildings and causing blackouts in parts of the capital of Santiago.

A Reuters witness reported shaking buildings and loss of electricity in Santiago.

(Reporting by Alonso Soto and Doina Chiacu)

Reuters is also reporting a “Tsunami warning in effect for Chile and Peru, Tsunami watch for Ecuador”, according to the MSNBC-affiliated Breaking News on Twitter.

More details via the L.A. Times:

SANTIAGO, Chile — A massive magnitude-8.5 earthquake struck near Concepcion, Chile, early Saturday, the USGS reported, shaking buildings and causing blackouts in parts of the capital of Santiago.

A Reuters witness reported shaking buildings and loss of electricity in Santiago, which is north of the epicenter.

The earthquake struck 56 miles northeast of Concepcion at a depth of 34 miles at 3:34 a.m./1:34 EST/0643 GMT. The quake was initially reported at a magnitude of 8.3.

The Reuters witness reported a very strong shaking lasted for 10 to 30 seconds.

“Early reports say the earthquake shook buildings and caused power cuts in the capital, Santiago, 320km from where the quake was centered.” Meanwhile, the BBC adds that as of the time of this early report, “There is no information yet on any casualties.”

The Honolulu Advertiser reports, “Hawaii under tsunami advisory after earthquake off Chile.”

Update 11:58 PM PST: Breaking News on Twitter now reports, “1 dead, many injured and significant damage after massive quake in Chile, magnitude now put at 8.3 by USGS.”

Update 12:10 AM PST 2/27/10: Wow — Breaking News now reports, “The US Geological Survey increases estimated magnitude of #Chile earthquake to 8.8.” (Headline above revised.)

Update: 12:50 AM PST: “Chile President Michelle Bachelet says 6 deaths confirmed so far after quake, much damage — BNO News.”

Update: 1:06 AM PST: The BBC has revised their initial report with these new details:

Buildings in Santiago were reported to have shaken for between 10 and 30 seconds, with the loss of electricity and communications.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the earthquake struck at a depth of about 35km.

It said tsunami effects had been observed at Valparaiso, west of Santiago, with a wave height of 1.29m above normal sea level.

One journalist speaking to Chilean national television from the city of Temuco, 600km south of Santiago, said many people there had left their homes, determined to spend the rest of the night outside. Some people on the streets were in tears.

Mark Winstanley, who contacted the BBC from Vina del Mar, 100km north-west of Santiago, said buildings had shaken and electricity and phone connections were cut but he could see no structural damage yet.

A university professor in Santiago, Cristian Bonacic, said that this was a massive quake but that the cities seemed to have resisted well. Internet communications were working but not mobile phones.

Chile suffered the biggest earthquake of the 20th century when a 9.5 magnitude quake struck the city of Valdivia in 1960, killing 1,655 people.

Aftershocks with ratings of 6.2 and 5.4 are reported near the initial earthquake’s epicenter.

UStream has a (Spanish-language) Chilean TV feed streaming here. Another streaming Chilean TV feed here.

Update 1:30 AM PST: “10 deaths [reported] in Chile quake so far, including 1 in Santiago, according television reports in Chile.”

Update 2:08 AM PST: A brief early BBC video report; casualties now at 17 according to local radio; strong aftershocks continue.

CNN includes the quake as one of the ten biggest earthquakes in the world since 1900, and notes that it’s approximately 64 times(!) more powerful than the 7.0 quake that struck Haiti in December.

Update 3:16 AM PST: Found via Tim Blair, the London Times now lists the death toll at 47.

More updates later today. In the interim, follow Breaking News on Twitter, and Google News.

Update 12:14 PM PST: The Wall Street Journal has a collection of photos graphically illustrating the destruction. 500,000 families have been displaced, death toll rises to 147.

Meanwhile, Hawaii is preparing for a tsunami, possibly arriving within the hour. Let’s hope it’s not a repeat of this.

Update 12:39 PM PST: Live streaming video of a Hawaiian NBC/CBS affiliate.

Update: 12:47 PM PST: The first calls declaring the earthquake was caused by global warming go out (via Tim Blair.) As always, life merely imitates Iowahawk.

Update 3:38 PM PST: via Instapundit, “Hawaii ‘Dodged a Bullet.’ Some folks on Twitter seem almost disappointed.”

And speaking of Twitter, here’s your Tweet of the Day.

Filed under: The Perfect Storm
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