8.2 Chile Quake: 6 Die, 300 Women Escape Prison

Cops battle looters as thousands flee coast
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2014 2:17 AM CDT
Updated Apr 2, 2014 7:54 AM CDT
Chile Earthquake: 5 Die, Hundreds of Inmates Escape
A fire burns at a restaurant after an earthquake in Iquique, Chile.   (AP Photo/Cristian Viveros)

Tens of thousands of Chileans have fled their homes for higher ground after a magnitude 8.2 earthquake caused 8-foot waves, power outages, fires, and landslides, the BBC reports. At least six people have been killed, which the AP notes is "a remarkably low toll for such a powerful shift in the Earth's crust." More:

  • In the city of Iquique, 61 miles southeast of the epicenter in the Pacific Ocean, police and soldiers are searching the partially flooded city for 300-plus escaped female prisoners, reports the Guardian. So far a little more than two dozen have been recaptured. A hundred anti-riot police and 300 soldiers have been flown into the area to aid the hunt, and to guard against looting.

  • Emergency officials say residents complied with orders to evacuate coastal areas, CNN reports. "We will know the extent of the damage as time goes by and when we inspect the areas in the light of day," Chile President Michelle Bachelet says. "The country has faced these first emergency hours very well." She has declared a state of emergency.
  • The quake initially triggered tsunami warnings, but those have all now been lifted, allowing thousands of people to return to their homes, though evacuation orders remain in place for some coastal areas. But Chileans are all too aware that Bachelet, who recently returned to power, prematurely called off a tsunami warning the last time she was president, in the wake of a far more deadly 2010 quake.
  • This time the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center backs the decision, however. It also said that California and the West Coast were safe, though it warned that swimmers and surfers in Hawaii might experience higher waves today.
(More Chile earthquake stories.)

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