Massive earthquake strikes Chile

Source : http://news.bbc.co.uk

February 27, 2010 - A massive earthquake has hit central Chile and killed at least 214 people, the interior minister says.

The 8.8 quake caused widespread damage, destroying buildings, bridges and roads in many areas. Electricity, water and phone lines were cut.

Chilean President Michele Bachelet said that altogether two million people had been affected.

Several Pacific countries were hit by waves higher than usual after a tsunami was set off by the quake.

In French Polynesia waves 6ft (1.8m) high swept ashore, but there were no immediate reports of damage.

n Hawaii, Tahiti and New Zealand, residents in coastal areas were warned to move to higher ground.

Hawaii later lifted its tsunami warning after waves measuring just under 1m (3ft) high struck but caused no damage.

The earthquake struck at 0634 GMT, 115km (70 miles) north-east of the city of Concepcion and 325km south-west of the capital Santiago. It is the biggest to hit Chile in 50 years.

At least 85 people died in the region of Maule alone, local journalists there said.

Many deaths were also in reported in the regions of Santiago, O'Higgins, Biobio, Araucania and Valparaiso.

Television pictures showed a major bridge at Concepcion had collapsed into the Biobio river.

Rescue teams are finding it difficult to reach Concepcion because of damage to infrastructure, national television reported.

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Created by Asia 9 weeks 5 days ago – Made popular 9 weeks 5 days ago
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Many people are surprised by

Keiros 9 weeks 3 days 21 hours 1 min ago

Many people are surprised by the relatively low death toll of the Chile earthquake, compared to its scale. The Haiti earthquake on on Jan. 12, 2010 had a magnitude of 7 and killed around 200,000 people, while the 8,8 tremor in Chile "only" killed 708 people.

There are several explanations for this difference:

First, the Chile earthquake epicenter was further away from large cities than it Haiti's case, and occured much deeper (about 22 miles compared with about eight miles in Haiti).

Also, Chile, like Japan, has a long history of seismic activity, being located along the Ring of Fire. Small earthquakes occur in Chile approximately 500 times a year, and major earthquakes (around magnitude 8) every 25 years in average.

The greatest earhquake ever recorded occured in Chile on May 22, 1960 and measured a 9.5 on the Richter scale.

Two other major earthquakes occured on March 3, 1985 and on August 1, 1995.

In Haiti, the previous earthquake had occured more the 150 years ago, enough for having disappeared from the collective memory while in Chile the population is always aware of the risks and follow strict anti-seismic building rules.

Last but not least, the media always communicate mentionning the magnitude of an earthquake on the Richter Scale, while scientists use several other scales to measure different parameters that vary greatly from a seismic event to the other, like the nature and depth of the fault, the velocity and direction of the shock waves and many other factors that better explain the casualties and the damages caused to infrastructures.

More information:

Why Bigger Quake Sows Less Damage.

Magnitude Scale and Quantification of Earthquakes