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Magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile 27 February 2010

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A large earthquake has taken place off the coast of Chile. The quake occurred at 03:34 am local time (06:34 GMT) today. The USGS initially reported a magnitude of 8.3, but that has just been upgraded to 8.8. The earthquake was located off Maule, 325 km SW of the capital Santiago and 115 km NNE of the city of Concepción, with a reported depth of 35 km. The NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (home page) reports that a tsunami warning has been issued for Chile and Peru, and a tsunami watch has been issued for Ecuador, Colombia, Antarctica, Panama and Costa Rica. The BBC reports that the Japan Meteorological Agency ‘has warned of a potential tsunami across the Pacific’ (NOAA tsunami travel time map).

Little news is available from Chile at the time of posting (it is less than two hours since the earthquake). La Tercera is reporting at least two deaths, power cuts, damage to communications networks and extensive property damage. UPDATE: Reuters, quoting Chilean President Michele Bachelet, reports that ‘at least six people’ have been killed.

FURTHER UPDATE: The confirmed death toll has risen to 47, and a state of emergency has been declared in the most seriously affected regions of central Chile. Chilean television station 24 Horas is now (11:31 GMT) reporting 64 dead. Live streaming of Chilean television (24 Horas) here.

[The Volcanism Blog will be back on Monday.]

The Volcanism Blog