April 03, 2014 08:40
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has visited the region of northern Chile struck late Tuesday by an 8.2-magnitude earthquake that killed at least six people and set off a small tsunami.
Ms. Bachelet visited the coastal towns of Arica and Iquique Wednesday, areas she has declared a disaster zone, to survey relief efforts. Soldiers are to be dispatched in those areas to prevent looting and keep the peace.
Tsunami warnings were issued for Chile's coastline after the quake, which was centered about 100 kilometers off Chile's northwestern coast. In addition to a small tsunami that prompted evacuations along the country's Pacific coast, the temblor caused widespread power outages and landslides that blocked highways.
At least six people were reported dead after being crushed by collapsing walls or experiencing heart attacks.
Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said about 300 inmates escaped a woman's prison in Iquique. He said troops have been deployed to prevent looting and round up the escapees.
Chile is one of the world's most earthquake prone countries. In 2010, a 8.8-magnitude quake rocked central Chile, killing more than 500 people and destroying 220,000 homes.
The region hit by Tuesday's quake had also experienced several smaller temblors in recent days, including a 6.0-magnitude earthquake on Sunday.
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