SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — A strong 6.7-magnitude earthquake shook Chile’s northern Pacific shore Sunday, and authorities said more than 100,000 people briefly evacuated some coastal areas as a precaution. Only minor damage was reported.
The U.S. Geological Survey originally reported the quake at a 7.0 magnitude but later revised the reading down. The tremor struck offshore about 6:16 p.m. at a depth of 20 kilometers (12 1/2 miles). Its epicenter was 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of Iquique, Chile.
The USGS said the earthquake was followed by a 5.1 tremor and three 4.9 quakes in the same area.
Chile’s navy said there had been a possibility of a minor tsunami between the northern towns of Arica and Tocopilla, so authorities urged people to evacuate along a stretch of coast where the Arica and Parinacota region adjoins the Tarapaca region. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there did not appear to be a threat of a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami.
Franz Schmauck, Arica and Parinacota regional director of Chile’s ONEMI emergency services office, told state TV that no damage was registered except for broken windows on some homes.
ONEMI’s national director, Ricardo Toro, told reporters later that about 80,000 people were evacuated in the Tarapaca region, 3,000 in Arica and Parinacota region and 22,000 in Antofagasta region. He said the sea had risen only about 32 centimeters (almost 13 inches).
The navy said the evacuation alert was lifted about three hours after the initial quake.
“We had a fright but we’re constantly monitoring,” Arica and Parinacota Gov. Emilio Rodríguez said.
Chile is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries. A magnitude-8.8 quake and the tsunami it unleashed in 2010 killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes, and washed away docks, riverfronts and seaside resorts.
The strongest earthquake ever recorded also happened in Chile, a magnitude-9.5 tremor in 1960 that killed more than 5,000 people.
Associated Press writer Luis Andres Henao contributed to this report.
PTWC Evaluation update: Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts within 200 km of the earthquake epicenter. For those areas – when no major waves are observed for two hours after the earthquake then local authorities can assume the threat is passed. Danger to boats and coastal structures can continue for several hours due to the rapid currents. As local conditions can cause a wide variation in tsunami wave action the all clear determination must be made by local authorities.
No tsunami threat exists for other coastal areas in the Pacific although some other areas may experience small non-destructive sea level changes lasting up to several hours. This will be the final bulletin issued for this event unless additional information becomes available.
USGS National Earthquake Information Center
M7.0 – 61km NW of Iquique, Chile
Event Time: 2014-03-16 21:16:33 UTC
Earthquake location: 19.842°S, 70.569°W=35.0km (21.7mi)
Depth: 35.0km (21.7mi)
- 61km (38mi) NW of Iquique, Chile
- 153km (95mi) S of Arica, Chile
- 206km (128mi) S of Tacna, Peru
- 252km (157mi) N of Tocopilla, Chile
- 449km (279mi) SW of La Paz, Bolivia
Tsunami Information Statement Number 1
NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center Ewa Beach, HI
11:23 a.m. Sun Mar 16 2014
To – Civil Defense in the State of Hawaii
Subject – Tsunami Information Statement
This statement is for information only. No action required.
An earthquake has occurred with these preliminary parameters
- Origin time – 11:17 a.m. HST 16 Mar 2014
- Coordinates – 19.9 south 70.7 west
- Location – off the coast of northern Chile
- Magnitude – 7.0 moment
Evaluation: Based on all available data a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected and there is no tsunami threat to Hawaii. Repeat. A destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected and there is no tsunami threat to Hawaii.
This will be the only statement issued for this event unless additional data are received.