by Jake Jasko
Chile’s government has declared a state of emergency after a massive 8.3-magnitude earthquake rocked its coastline on September 16th. The tremor, which occurred around 7:54PM (CNN), caused severe and widespread damage to coastal settlements.
The port town of Coquimbo was particularly devastated by the quake, with buildings and other pieces of infrastructure crumbling away. The mayor of Coquimbo, Cristian Galleguillos, has said that the city experienced flooding after several tsunami waves hit the town. One wave was recorded at 15 feet in height. 95% of the city’s residents no longer have electricity (CNN).
According to the BBC, more than 500 residential homes were badly damaged. Thankfully, due to a swift and intelligent response from emergency teams, the death toll has stayed incredibly low. Reports indicate that 11 people have died. While unfortunate, the earthquake struck when thousands of Chileans were traveling to celebrate their independence day along the coast.
President Michelle Bachelet has already begun a tour of the devastated coastal areas, stating that her government “had learned a series of lessons” from previous disasters. She went on to say, “we’re going to have to go on the ground and see what the damages are and see where help is needed” (CBC). The President has since stated that some of Friday’s festivities and celebrations will be cancelled due to the quake.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has also warned Hawaii, New Zealand and Japan to be on guard for potentially hazardous tsunami waves. On September 18th, Japanese officials stated that several waves of up to one meter in height had reached their coasts and urged civilians to stay away from the shores for the time being (BBC).