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. Dani

    This is terrible, my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Chile and those affected by these quakes.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  2. Joseph

    I was here in Santiago.
    Please do not make this aftershock, worse than it has too be.
    Nothing terrible has happened. Valpariaso is ok.
    Do not make this look like another desaster.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. Claudio

    Thanks for your concern. We were really scared. It was a shaking inauguration for our new President!

    March 11, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  4. M. Teresa Espinoza

    Hi!
    I´m in Santiago, 16th floor.
    The quakes were really strong and many buildings were evacuated. It is still trembling.
    Telephone lines do not work properly now.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  5. Joyces

    GOD, Hear our prayers for the people of Chile. I can't image almost constant shaking. Please, GOD help the people of Chile.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dj-T3[H

    The Sea... in calm for the moment here, but the alert of tsunami continues...
    the people run to the hills... but don't worry. The city of Valparaiso and Viña del mar of Chile Is in calm.

    Greetings

    March 11, 2010 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. Andy MartĂ­nez

    We got two earthquakes, and now the goverment announced a tsunami from Coquimbo until La RegiĂłn de Los Lagos, people are running to the high places where the tsunami cannot reach.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ms Sibes

    I feel for them. Prayers going to people of Chile. I hope this is one that does not come in 3's

    March 11, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. Fawkes

    I was in Istanbul during the 1999 earthquake and unfortunately I know how 7.4 feels. I'm hope everyone is fine. Our prayers are with you.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  10. Nancy

    Oh my goodness, how many more earthquakes will there be? Please stay safe everyone in Chile.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. Andy MartĂ­nez

    There were three earthquakes of 7.2, 6.9, 6.0 in the scale of Richter.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mike J

    Prayers and blessings go to all the people in all the recent earthquakes around the world, I hope that Chile dosen't get any strong aftershocks, so they can find survivors quickly and safely.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  13. Andy MartĂ­nez

    Now it´s shaking again.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. refe

    I understand children were going back to school today...

    March 11, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  15. Phil

    prayers and thoughts are with everyone there.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
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