Disaster

Massive 8.8 Quake Hits Chile

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has declared a “state of catastrophe” as her country reels from a devastating 8.8 magnitude earthquake. The quake struck off the coast, close enough to do major damage to its two most populated cities, Santiago and Concepcion, and Chile felt more than two dozen aftershocks. The interior minister says at least 214 are dead, a number likely to rise, especially around Concepcion, which is just 70 miles from the quake’s center. Residents of Santiago, 200 miles from the epicenter, felt the shaking for 90 seconds. “Most of the embassy folks I talked to said that it felt like five minutes,” the American ambassador to Chile said. “It was definitely an emotional experience.” Cell phone and internet service is limited, making rescue efforts more difficult. Though Santiago saw long lines at grocery stores, the city was mostly calm. That city was also the site of the worst earthquake recorded—9.5 magnitude—in 1960. Officials issued the first hemisphere-wide tsunami warning in 46 years, but swells in Hawaii were not as high as feared.