March 11th, 2010
02:07 PM ET

Chile leader: 'Significant damage' in Rancagua

A USGS map shows the area where a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit in Chile Thursday.

[Updated 2:07 p.m.] Rancagua Mayor Eduardo Soto said that no fatalities were immediately reported and that the biggest worry was damage to homes, CNN Chile reported.

[Updated 1:24 p.m.] The central Chilean city of Rancagua was affected by today's earthquakes newly inaugurated president, Sebastian Pinera said Thursday.

"There is significant damage in Rancagua," the new president said. "We're going to send the necessary armed forces to guarantee citizens' safety."

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Pinera said Thursday afternoon he will declare the area a catastrophe zone.

The country's national emergency authorities also put in place a tsunami alert for the coastal area near where several earthquakes hit.

"I don't want to alarm anyone, [the alert] is solely precautionary, but we have to take precautions when there are human lives at risk," Pinera said.

[Updated 11:35 a.m.] The USGS has downgraded the magnitude of the temblors that hit Chile today - saying that a 6.9 magnitude hit, followed by 6.7 and 6.0 magnitude quakes.

Two additional aftershocks were reported: a 5.4 magnitude and a 4.9 magnitude, in the same region of Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins, Chile, near the coast.

[Updated 10:43 a.m.] Three temblors rattled Chile today - a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, followed 16 minutes later by a 6.9 magnitude quake, and then a 6.0 magnitude aftershock 11 minutes after that, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

They were the strongest aftershocks to rattle Chile since a February 27 earthquake on the country's west coast that toppled buildings and spawned a tsunami, killing several hundred people.

[Updated 10:22 a.m.] Rolando Sanchez, President of CNN Chile, says the 7.2 magnitude earthquake could be felt strongly in the newsroom in Santiago, Chile.

"It was very, very strong," he said. "It went on for a good 45 seconds."

Sanchez said the felt about four aftershocks earlier in the day, but none as intense or lasting as long as the 7.2 magnitude quake. Sanchez said some people were running and others were evacuating.

"We also have information from our crews where the inauguration is taking place that they're evacuating people around the main government building on the outside asking them to move away and move to higher ground, although the inauguration itself is continuing," Sanchez said.

[Updated 10:07 a.m.] The 7.2 magnitude earthquake shook the ground near the region of Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins, near the Chilean coast. It struck just as Chile prepared to inaugurate a new president, Sebastian Pinera.

The epicenter was about 95 miles (152 km) south-southwest of the capital, Santiago, and about 90 miles (145 km) away from Valparasio, where Pinera was to be inaugurated. Television footage showed the inauguration proceeding without a hitch.

The quake was almost 22 miles deep and centered 95 miles southwest of Santiago, according to USGS.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a statement that "a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected" and there is no tsunami threat to Hawaii.

[Posted at 9:54 a.m.] An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.2 has struck south of Santiago, Chile, the United States Geological Survey reports.

This story is currently developing. We'll bring you the latest information from Chile as soon as we get it.

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Filed under: Earthquake
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. Mattison Brooks

    Man these people cannot catch a break.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  2. PA Mom

    I was just on Facebook with my daughter who is living in Santiago when the quake happened; there were actually two strong shocks. She was getting ready to head out the door to safety when the tremors stopped. I don't know of any damage, but her building is ok.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  3. Cillian1977

    Those folks have already been through so much. When will it end?

    March 11, 2010 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. Brent

    Sounds like Gods getting mad. Quakes going off all over the world lately. Should we start building Arks?

    March 11, 2010 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  5. jaime aguila

    it felt really strong..I'm working in Santiago and we have had many aftershoscks this morning after the 7.2 earthquake.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. Daniel

    i'm from Chile and there were 2 quake not just one...the first one was stronger than the second one, but they were really may come another tsunami and the ground is still moving

    March 11, 2010 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  7. Judy

    my prayer's are with them. my God how much can any one person take

    March 11, 2010 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  8. Amanda Walton

    Was watching on the history channel last night a weekly series called "The Nostradamus Effect", last night it concentrated on the Ancient Pyramids .. they also mentioned of the polar shift that is known to take place just as a natural occurrence of the earth crust that happens every x amount of thousands of years.. it doesn't happen quickly it happens over a progression of time.. could this be what is happening now as more natural disasters are occurring at stronger magnitudes?

    March 11, 2010 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  9. sam84

    WHOA!!!!!!! everyday there is a new earthquake.. that's scary, hope nobody got hurt

    March 11, 2010 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. Carole Jones

    I wonder why this sort of thing is not put down to the fact that there are too many of us and we are killing the planet, All these earthquakes and storms and such are Nature's way of fighting back. It is obvious.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. crystal bilbo

    God bless their hearts!!!

    March 11, 2010 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  12. msOne

    whats going on with all the earthquakes in the pacific region? anyone making any connections here....?

    March 11, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  13. Emma

    This is a sad and tragic news. Prayers for the people of Chile.

    Is this really an aftershock or it can be considered as another/different earthquake?

    March 11, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  14. mehmet celik

    The time is interesting.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. Phil


    March 11, 2010 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
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