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Photo: REUTERS/Pablo Sanhueza

Earthquake kills eight and forces 1 million to evacuate in Chile

Chileans are rummaging through debris after an 8.3 magnitude earthquake killed at least eight people, sent huge waves into the coastal area and forced 1 million people to evacuate Wednesday. Tsunami warnings were issued along the 2,690-mile coast.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake hit Wednesday night with its epicenter 29 miles west of Illapel, where several homes sustained damage. Some of the deaths occurred in Illapel as well, CNN reports.

Chile’s national emergency service ordered the coast’s immediate evacuation. Citizens on Easter Island and the archipelago Juan Fernandez were also asked to evacuate, according to New York Times.

President Michelle Bachelet told citizens on national television that her government was thoroughly investigating the damage. “Once again we have to confront a tough blow from nature,” Bachelet said in regards to Chile’s history with earthquakes.

“We’re going to have to go on the ground to see that the damages are and see where help is needed,” Bachelet said.

Mahmud Aleuy, the undersecretary of the Interior, said that 243,000 houses lost power and one million people were evacuated. People could feel the earthquake as far away as Buenos Aires in Argentina.

People were traveling to high grounds in cars and on foot as waves started to flood the cities. Waves rose as high as 15 feet in Coquimbo, a city 285 miles north of Santiago, according to NY Times.

“Everything is a mess. It was a disaster, a total loss. Bottles and glasses shattered and the pipes in the bathroom and kitchen burst,” an Illapel restaurant owner Melisa Pinones said. Pinones resides close to the epicenter of the quake.

A 35-year-old woman, a 20-year-old woman, a 67-year-old man, an 81-year-old man and a 96-year-old man were among those who died. The 35-year-old woman died in Illapel when a wall fell on her and in Monte Patria, the 20-year-old woman was crushed by rocks.

Brutal aftershocks kept shaking the South American country on Thursday morning and locals are concerned another big quake is on the way. However, a tsunami warning is no longer in place.

About Meredith Rodefer

Meredith Rodefer is a freelance writer, who focuses on anything from lifestyle blogging to hard news, and dancer. Beyond Youth Independent, she has written for sites such as Natmonitor.com, CheekyChicago.com and FamilyFocusBlog.com. Contact Meredith: [email protected]