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Strong earthquake hits northern Chile

Chile declared three regions to be disaster areas after a powerful earthquake killed at least five people in northern Chile.

Chile earthquakes

GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

The magnitude-8.2 quake stuck at 20:46 local time (23:46 GMT) about 100 kilometres northwest of the city of Iquique on Chile’s Pacific coast, according to the US Geological Survey.

Following an initial tsunami alert, thousands are reported to have fled to higher grounds.

A major tsunami is not expected to strike the Hawaiian archipelago, according to the US National Tsunami Warning Center. But swimmers and boaters in Hawaii are warned of sea-level changes and strong currents.

The earthquake struck in the ‘seismic gap’ of northern Chile, where the last major quake had occurred in 1877. The location and mechanism of the quake are consistent with slip on the plate boundary between two major tectonic plates in South America, according to the US Geological Survey. Seismologists had expected a quake to occur in that region after a series of smaller tremors in recent weeks.

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