Tsunami Swept Away Fleeing Bus of Retirees

Waves ravaged communities along Chilean coast
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 2, 2010 6:25 AM CST
Tsunami Swept Away Fleeing Bus of Retirees
A woman stands in front of a damaged house after an earthquake in Pelluhue, some 200 miles, southwest of Santiago, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010. A 8.8-magnitude earthquake hit Chile early Saturday.   (Roberto Candia)

The 40 retirees enjoying summer vacation at a seaside campground knew they had to move fast after Chile's powerful earthquake struck. They didn't make it. The tsunami came in three waves, surging 200 yards into the resort town of Pelluhue and dragging away the bus they'd piled into to get to high ground. Most of those inside were tourists, and only five of their bodies had been found by yesterday.

Pelluhue's horror underscored the destruction wrought by the post-earthquake tsunami that ravaged communities along Chile's south-central coast. In the village of Dichato, teenagers drinking on the beach were the first to shout the warning when they saw a horseshoe-shaped bay empty about an hour after the quake. The water surged above the second floors of homes and lifted them off their foundations. Cars were stacked three high in the streets. "You could hear the screams of children, women, everyone," says one survivor. "There were the screams, and then a tremendous silence." (More Chile stories.)

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