An 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck near the coast of Chile last night, triggering multiple aftershocks and a six-foot tsunami. The earthquake hit just 50 miles southwest of Cuya, Chile at 6.2 miles deep in the Pacific Ocean. The shaking was so strong that it was felt 300 miles away in Bolivia, and aftershocks measured up to 6.2 in magnitude, wiping out power in the city and damaging buildings. Five people have been reported dead, according to CNN.
The earthquake started at 8:46 p.m. As of now, damage was reported along the A16 Highway just north of Inquique along with building damage and telephone and light blackouts. The mayor Arica reported that there were a few minor injuries, no fatalities and while there was some building damage, modern buildings escaped unscathed. Most of the cities near the epicenter of the quake are not densely populated, with about 215,000 people combined in the entire region.
At least eight strong aftershocks followed the earthquake, one reaching as high as 6.2 in magnitude. Initially a tsunami alert was issued for Peru, Ecuador and Chile, with Colombia and Panama added to the alert shortly later. In La Paz, Bolivia, shaking reached 4.5 on the scale.
A large portion of the Chilean coast borders Nazca plate, which is slowly moving under the South American plate, the most obvious result of which is the Andes Mountain range. Experts have noted that though a large quake has been expected in the area for some time, they are not sure that this was the “big one” or if a larger earthquake could still be expected. “As big as an 8.1 is, it probably has not released all of the stored up energy on the subduction earthquake fault in northern Chile. For the sake of all of our friends in the region, we’re hoping that there isn’t a bigger one still to come,” said geologist Rick Allmendinger.