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Chile: 1 million evacuated due to magnitude 8.3 earthquake

Eight people have been killed and 1 million evacuated from their homes after a magnitude 8.3 earthquake struck just off the coast of Chile, sending powerful waves flooding into its coastal cities.

Coastlines on both sides of the Pacific had braced for possible tsunamis after the quake, although a tsunami alert originally issued for the entire Chilean coast was later lifted.

Chile’s ministry of the interior and public security said 20 people have been injured, but phone networks remain down in parts of the country so the full extent of damage and injury is not yet known.

A tsunami hit the coastal Chilean city of Tongoy at about 8.20pm local time, a little more than 25 minutes after the earthquake. Pictures appeared to show the city of Concón, popular with tourists, being deluged by waves.

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet spoke on national television, saying Tongoy and Coquimbo had been extensively flooded and damaged. She declared a catastrophe zone in those areas and mobilised the military to help civilians and prevent looting.