A strong magnitude-8.3 earthquake struck the center of Chile on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, triggering a tsunami alert along the entire coastline and sparking panic and shaking buildings in the capital.
The quake had a shallow depth of 11 kilometers (six miles) and hit at 7:54 pm (2254 GMT), with the epicenter located about 500 kilometers north of the capital Santiago, seismologists at the University of Chile said.
Tsunami Threat message to Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Watch to Hawaii for mag 8.3 (revised) earthquake in central Chile. http://t.co/oPX1oTTbcu
— NWS PTWC (@NWS_PTWC) September 16, 2015
A tsunami watch was issued for Hawaii by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, but so far Costa Rica has not issued any warnings for its coast, according to Silvia Chacón, oceanographer and coordinator for the National Tsunami Monitoring System at the National University.
Chacón said that the outward force of the quake would send any potential tsunami west, toward Hawaii and Japan. Costa Rica’s position behind Peru and Ecuador would make it “very unlikely” that any serious wave would hit shores here. Chacón did say that currents could be unusually strong around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday when any possible wave mind reach Costa Rica.
USGS reported two aftershocks, both above magnitude-6.0.
The quake was felt as far away as Buenos Aires, in Argentina, about 1,400 kilometers away, while a tsunami warning was in place for the whole of Chile’s coastline.
Reiteramos a toda la población que se encuentra en el borde costero evacuar de forma tranquila hasta zona de seguridad
— onemichile (@onemichile) September 16, 2015
AFP contributed to this report.