An 8.8-magnitude earthquake blasted central Chile for nearly a minute and a half early Saturday, toppling buildings and knocking out phone and electrical lines. The quake hit 200 miles southwest of Santiago and just 70 miles from Concepcion, Chile‘s second-largest city, at a depth of 22 miles at just after 1:30 a.m. our time. It reportedly was felt in Argentina.
As of 4 a.m. our time, six people were confirmed dead. However, the damage was so widespread that some media oulets reported it difficult to confirm the extent. However, it’s the area’s largest earthquake since a magnitude-9.5 quake — the largest of the 20th century — killed 1,655 people and left 2 million homeless in May 1960.
“We are in the process of finding out about the effects of the quake across the region, the state of the roads and hospitals, the damage to buildings and of course the number of those killed and injured,” said Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for Chile and Peru, and a less-urgent tsunami watch for Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Antarctica.
The U.S. west coast tsunami warning center said it did not expect a tsunami along the west of the U.S. or Canada but was continuing to monitor the situation.